There Are No Gender Presumptions WIth Alimony or Child Support
It can be very difficult to get rid of gender stereotypes or common notions of traditional gender roles and responsibilities. One area where stereotyping still tends to be commonplace is when it comes to paying alimony and child support. Many people still think of these obligations as a man’s obligation to pay, and many still believe that there is a presumption that women will have an advantage in asking to receive alimony or child support.
Study Shows Women as Payors is On the Rise
A recent study by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 54% of divorce attorneys found an increase in women who were ordered to pay child support and 45% saw an increase in the number of women ordered to pay alimony to an ex husband. A full 78% of attorneys cited an increase in the amount of couples who had shared custody over the children, dispelling the myth that women are more involved in children’s lives than men are.
With more and more women in the workplace, many women may be surprised that they can be ordered to pay alimony. It is estimated that in 4 of every 10 households the woman is the primary income earner.
Similarly, with more men accepting roles as stay at home fathers, it is commonly accepted that men are entitled to receive child support if they have the majority of time sharing with the child.
No Legal Gender Presumptions
There is no legal presumption for a male or female to pay or receive support in Florida. In fact, the United States Supreme Court made any such presumption based on gender illegal in 1979.
There is a presumption for and against alimony depending on the length of the marriage. Usually marriages that last less than 7 years will be presumed not have an alimony award to either party. A marriage that lasted over 17 years will have a presumption in favor of alimony. Between 7-17 the judge can award alimony on “clear and convincing” evidence of the need for alimony payments.
In deciding whether to award alimony, courts will look to the resources of both parties, as well as earning capacity. That can include evaluating the education and employability of both spouses (including considering the ability to take work if one spouse will be a primary residential parent).
Each spouse’s age and physical condition are also factors, as is the standard that the parties lived when they were married (although there is no guarantee that couples will be able to continue to live in the same standard separately as they were when married).
Child support also does not pay attention to gender. Rather, there is a simple formula that is based on the parties’ income, and the amount of time each party will have with the child.
Our Tampa family law attorneys at the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group can help you with your questions or concerns about alimony and child support. Contact us today for more information.