As the number of married women who are financially dependent on their husbands decrease, the more our present alimony laws are scrutinized. Now that women are a major segment of today’s workforce, and have generally obtained a higher educational status, the premise that they are “entitled” to a portion of man’s income after separation or divorce is becoming outdated. Although men’s groups are pushing for spousal support reform, many women also agree that the old system disadvantages today’s women by not encouraging them to be financially responsible for themselves and begin a new life. The courts agree and we are seeing it in the Riverside County courts as motions for spousal support now require more thorough consideration of the circumstances. Since the beginning of 2012 Family Code 4320 has been relied upon more stringently before spousal support is ordered.

Although staying at home to raise the kids may be the right thing to do, the court doesn’t agree when it hinders a women from contributing financially to the family’s household. Staying at home to raise the kids is not a consideration in itself when determining a spousal support award. Also, it isn’t just about a women’s present job skills, but about what skills can be acquired in a reasonable time to start earning a paycheck. The court also considers what separate property a woman might have that can be relied on for support. Of course women who must stay at home to care for their special needs children, disabled women, and older women who came of age when there was true financial gender inequality will be exempt from this new trend.

Alimony laws started when divorces were granted based on fault. The change to no-fault divorce changed the premise that spousal support is a right. Permanent support is being successfully challenged. Women today can’t count on spousal support like women could years ago. The fact that the divorce rate is and has been about 50% means that it’s a risk to trust your financial security to one person. Stay at home women facing separation or divorce who aren’t aware of the evolving spousal support reform will be shocked. The modern interpretation of Family Code 4320 should be a warning to those who are unprepared for the financial realities of life.

This article is not intended as legal advice but is for informational purposes only.