Prior to 1979, in some states such as Alabama, child support was paid exclusively to women. However, before the 1980s, in the case of Orr v. Orrbacked by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court ruled that he was unconstitutionally unequal in treatment and ordered spousal support to be gender-neutral.
How many women pay child support?
From Britney to Madonna to J.Lo, the past two decades have seen many high-profile women pay their exes millions of dollars. In the recent case of Kelly Clarkson, the singer was ordered to pay her ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock, a one-time payment of $1,326,161 and monthly payments of $115,000 in child support through January 2024. Additionally, Clarkson was ordered to pay $45,601 each. months of child support, although they have primary custody and care for their two children most of the time.
But it’s not just celebrities who pay child support. A 2018 report from The American Academy of Marriage Lawyers found that more than half of the 1,650 lawyers surveyed had seen an increase in the number of women paying child support.
Why is there an increase in the number of women paying child support?
While men still top overall salaries, more and more women are becoming breadwinners. The 2018 census found that among heterosexual married couples, 1 in 4 women were the primary breadwinner. Therefore, in the name of divorce, more women are paying.
But what about household chores?
For better or worse, judges usually stick to the monetary facts, not the specifics of the party running the house. “It doesn’t matter who stays at home,” says Kelly Chang Rickert, who has been a family law attorney for over 22 years. “Even if they don’t contribute anything, they are entitled to it.” Divorce and family law attorney Emily E. Rubenstein adds: “It can be very difficult for someone to agree to pay spousal support when they feel like they have already taken care of everything.
What you need to know before getting married
How long does alimony last?
Each state has different rules. For example, in New York, those married until age 15 can expect support to last 15-30% of the length of the marriage. In California, for a marriage that lasted less than 10 years, spousal support will generally last for half of the marriage. (For example, an eight-year marriage would result in four years of child support.)
For marriages over ten years in California, things are a little different. ‘Over 10 years, there’s no official end date,’ says divorce lawyer Demetria L. Graves. “Parties can come back and try to amend, but it’s not set in stone. In some cases, you may have to pay for the rest of their life. As every state is different, seek appropriate legal advice.
Is alimony tax deductible?
Previously, alimony was tax deductible for the payer. However, in 2017, former President Trump amended it to be tax-free for the recipient. Chang Rickert calls it a nightmare. “Before, we could dangle the carrot on the payor, but now, with no tax advantage, paying child support can really sting,” she says.
What you need to know about marriage contracts
The three lawyers advise a prenuptial agreement. While prenups typically have a negative, unromantic, and faithless outlook, Rubenstein advises couples to view them as beneficial to their future. “Often in our society, prenups are seen as a weapon, but in reality, it’s much more of a planning tool,” she says. “It gives you and your future spouse the opportunity to have conversations about what you expect and what serves you both.”
Discussing financial roles and responsibilities before getting married can even lower your chances of divorce. A 2017 report from Ramsey Solutions revealed that 94% of couples who rated their marriage as “great“ were twice as likely to discuss their finances and money dreams together. “When you go through the prenup process, you need to have those conversations and it will benefit your marriage,” adds Rubenstein.
Additionally, Graves advises couples, especially women in heterosexual relationships, not to fall victim to premarital euphoria. “One of the biggest misconceptions I hear a lot from women is “He’s not going to ask me for help; he promised me he wouldn’t“, she said. “But when things go wrong and he talks to a lawyer and learns how much he can possibly get, it’s definitely on the table. Women need to stop believing that just because their spouse is a man, he’s not going to ask for child support.
It is important to note that your prenuptial agreement is made to suit you and does not need to include child support. “Give up child support if you don’t want to pay it,” says Chang Rickert. “Always be self-sufficient – and also try to marry someone self-sufficient.”