In many ways, it can be argued that alimony is a slightly archaic concept. In the past, alimony was rather straightforward. The man of the house always earned more money than the woman, and so alimony was simply monetary compensation from the man to the woman after the marriage had ended.
These days, it is not so simple. Many women today have incredibly successful careers, and many of these women earn more than their husbands. Technically speaking, modern alimony is supposed to be “non-gender-specific,” which means that women can end up paying alimony to their former husbands under certain circumstances. However, even with these new rules in place, it is not common for women to pay alimony. Alimony is still primarily a system involving payments from men to women.
In addition, it is difficult to determine what is “fair” when dealing with alimony. There are numerous situations in which retired or unemployed men continue to pay alimony to their ex-wives, even though these women are earning more than enough to support themselves with their own careers. Large disparities in income are far less common in today’s world. Gone are the days when women were completely dependent on their husbands by default. With these factors in mind, it should come as no surprise that some observers are calling for alimony to be abolished entirely. Although no state has gone quite so far yet, many are taking notable steps to limit the influence and scope of alimony.
Most alimony laws were originally written many decades ago, when women made up a much smaller portion of the overall workforce. Since 1980, the amount of women in the workforce has grown by well over 10%. Today, almost 60% of all women above the age of 16 participate in the workforce. Women account for roughly half of the national workforce, and they made up 47% of the total labor force in 2019.
Men and Women Both Suffer Because of Alimony
With so many women participating in the workforce and experiencing considerable financial success, many of them are experiencing the negative effects of alimony firsthand. Those who earned significantly more than their husbands may be forced to pay large sums in alimony payments each year. This shows that alimony is not just a problem faced by one specific gender, but rather anyone who leaves a marriage with more wealth and earning capacity compared to their former spouse.
Limits to Permanent Alimony
Most states that seek to address this issue usually aim to limit or abolish permanent alimony. Florida is one state that has been pushing through alimony changes in the Senate for a number of years. The new laws would mean that alimony would only last half the duration of the marriage at the very most. In addition, alimony would also end as soon as the paying spouse retires. Finally, alimony would also end if the dependent spouse starts living with someone else who is paying the bills.
We can only guess where the future of alimony might take us. There are valid concerns that alimony allows people to “cheat the system,” and it is easy to see why alimony might be considered archaic.