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The changing face of family law and women in the workforce

Decades ago, it was the norm for men to “bring home the bacon” and for women to be stay-at-home moms. However, the dynamics of women in the workforce have changed, and these days it is not unusual for women in Leesburg and nationwide to obtain jobs in which they earn more than their husbands. This may be a step in the right direction for both women and men with regards to equality in the workplace, but it also has a significant effect on family law issues.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey of attorneys regarding women, child support and spousal maintenance. The results of the survey provided more information on the number of women paying child support and/or spousal maintenance nationwide. The answers to the survey indicate a growing trend in spousal maintenance and child support that differs from years past.

Of the lawyers surveyed, 45 percent reported seeing an uptick in the number of women paying spousal maintenance within the past three years. Moreover, of the lawyers surveyed, 54 percent reported seeing an uptick in the number of women paying child support over the past three years. This reflects growing trends in today’s society wherein more women are becoming the family breadwinner, earning more than their husbands. This is in contrast to years past when husbands were the primary income earners in the family and many women either worked lower-income jobs or stayed out of the workforce entirely to care for the family.

Pew Research reports that wives are the primary income earner in four out of 10 households across the nation. However, 2010 census data reports that only 3 percent of those receiving spousal maintenance were husbands. Therefore, while there may be an uptick in women paying spousal maintenance, men are still primarily tasked with making such payments.

These days, many spousal maintenance awards aim to give the receiving spouse the financial resources and time needed to ultimately find a job that allows them to be self-supporting. When it comes to child support, both parents are required to provide for their child’s financial needs. The custodial parent does so by having the child reside with them, and the non-custodial parent does so through child support payments. In the end, what is important is that any award of child support and/or spousal maintenance is fair and appropriate, so that neither party experiences financial disaster due to a divorce.

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