Is alimony an outdated part of the divorce process?

An interesting case out of Connecticut has pitted four divorced men against state alimony laws that the men claim are unconstitutional. But while their argument is grounded in whether state laws are too vague and burdens their “right to end a marriage and to remarry,” their situation could actually raise different questions for our Texas readers such as whether the alimony process is still considered relevant in today’s society.

Many people have the general impression that spousal support payments grew out of a time in the United States when women did not have a stronghold in the workplace and often relied on their husbands to provide the income. During this time, a divorce would have created financial difficulty for an unemployed woman who may have become accustomed to the income and lifestyle marriage provided. But according to many scholars, the concept of spousal maintenance has actually been around for centuries and may be more engrained in society than most people think.

So what role does it play in today’s society?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask. If one spouse is more well-off financially than the other after a divorce then they might say that court-ordered support payments are a burden on their lives and never truly free them from a marriage. This is not unlike the argument made by the four men we mentioned above. But on the other hand, for the spouse with a smaller income, alimony payments can be incredibly helpful and can often ensure financial stability in the long run.

This brings us to our next question then: is alimony an outdated part of the divorce process?

While it’s true that women have a stronger presence in the workplace now than they did in the past, this does not mean that every woman would be able to survive financially without support payments from their husband after a divorce. The same would be true if the roles were reversed, considering the fact that a court order can award alimony payments to either the husband or the wife. This is an important aspect we hope readers here in Texas will consider, especially if they find themselves wondering similar things about spousal support when it comes to their own divorce proceedings.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Divorced Men Call Alimony Unconstitutional," Christine Stuart, Nov. 15, 2013

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