Many Washington men may be entitled to alimony but fail to seek it

More women are acting as primary breadwinners, leaving more men eligible for alimony; however, many men may fail to exercise their right to seek support.

After a divorce, adjusting to the financial realities of living independently can prove challenging for many people. Alimony or spousal maintenance is designed to help disadvantaged spouses successfully complete this difficult transition. Surprisingly, a number of spouses who qualify for alimony in Spokane may fail to seek it. National data suggests that many men may be eligible for alimony, yet only a small proportion of them currently receive it.

Alimony eligibility

In Washington, alimony is awarded based on various factors. A family law judge may consider each spouse's health, age, financial resources and occupation. Each spouse's education, work experience and earning potential may be weighed. The marital standard of living, along with each spouse's ability to independently maintain it, may also be factored in. As these considerations show, a spouse's gender has no impact on alimony obligations or awards.

Today, more men may qualify for alimony because it has become more common for wives to earn more than their husbands. The New York Times states that the proportion of marriages in which wives out-earn their husbands has quadrupled since 1960. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, 29 percent of wives had higher incomes than their husbands.

Basic income is not the only factor that determines whether a person receives alimony after a divorce. However, these figures suggest that a growing number of men may be eligible to collect alimony.

Potential barriers

Unfortunately, many men may decline to seek the spousal support they are entitled to. Forbes reports that, in 2012, just 3 percent of all alimony recipients in the U.S. were men. According to the same source, the following factors may prevent men from seeking or receiving alimony:

  • Personal reluctance - some men may not seek alimony because they view doing so as weak or emasculating. Others may believe that forgoing alimony will allow for a smoother separation.
  • Inadvertent bias - in some cases, men who seek alimony may face unintentional bias in family law courts. Outdated gender roles may promote the belief that men are better equipped to support themselves or less deserving of alimony.
  • Different financial attitudes - compared to women, men may be less financially cautious. Even in the face of financial losses during divorce, men may be more confident in their ability to live without alimony.

Unfortunately, these factors may cause some men to experience unnecessary financial hardship. Spouses who fail to seek alimony while divorcing lose the right to request it later. Thus, forgoing alimony may have long-term financial ramifications.

Protecting legal rights

People who are divorcing in Washington should be careful to protect their rights and consider all of their legal options. Speaking to an attorney can be a beneficial step for anyone who is preparing for a divorce. An attorney may be able to help a spouse understand the available options and work toward a settlement that protects his or her long-term interests.

Keywords: divorce, alimony, spousal support