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Spousal maintenance increasingly gender-blind

There are multiple types of financial payments that might be ordered in a divorce decree. One type is child support, while another is spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is a payment that one spouse makes to the other spouse for the benefit or care of that spouse. While traditionally, alimony was paid to ex-wives, Minnesota readers may find it interesting to learn more and more men are receiving spousal maintenance than ever before.

According to a number of news reports and recent surveys, divorce and family law attorneys are beginning to see a significant rise in the number of men who are asking for alimony payments from their ex-wives in divorce proceedings. While this may be surprising to some, the shift in trends seems to be following a shift in social norms overall, specifically the rise in the number of mothers who are choosing to work, compared to the number of fathers who are choosing to stay at home and raise children.

However, while the numbers are rising, they may be low compared to what might be expected. One reason for this, according to some experts, is that some men are reluctant or too prideful to request alimony, despite being entitled to it. Of course, whether a man, or woman for that matter, is actually entitled to alimony depends on a number of factors. Such factors include the financial need of the spouse requesting payments as well as the value that the party brought to the relationship.

Ultimately it is important for both men and women to know that Minnesota's spousal maintenance statute, like most other states, does not take gender into consideration. Whether a former spouse is entitled to get spousal maintenance in a divorce depends on a variety of considerations and the discretion of the court. One thing the court cannot take into consideration, however, is whether the person asking for the payments is a man or a woman.

Source: Reuters, "More men get alimony from their ex-wives," Geoff Williams, December 24, 2013

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