Throughout the history of the United States, until recently, it had been assumed that the father in a family would be the one who goes out and earns money for the family while the mother stays home to take care of the children. Since the 1960's to 1970's however, our traditional gender roles and how a family operates has begun to evolve.
With far more women taking on leadership roles and advancing in their careers, it is not uncommon for both parents to be out working to support the family, or for fathers to stay at home and care for the children while the wife is out working on her career and earning money for the family.
When it comes to a divorce, and for a spouse thinking about life after a divorce, if they have been dependent on the other spouse's income, it may be very difficult to transition back to a single life. This is why, in the United States, the courts can award spousal support, or alimony, to a spouse who had not been working or had been earning significantly less than the other spouse.
Spousal support is awarded to not only help a spouse get back into the workforce, but to help try to maintain the previous standard of living they experienced during the course of their marriage. The money can be used for training or an education, or to simply try to get by until they are able to support themselves. If you are going through a divorce, it might be in your best interests to reach out to a lawyer for advice on how to succeed in divorce court.
Source: findlaw.com, "Spousal Support (Alimony) Basics," Accessed, June 19, 2017