Despite what critics say, spousal support is still necessary

To many people, the concept of spousal support seems antiquated and unnecessary. Whether you call it alimony or use the more modern term “spousal support,” the practice of providing financial support for an ex-spouse after divorce seems to belong to an earlier time. After all, it is very common for both men and women to work outside the home. Aren’t men and women equal “breadwinners” these days?

This is the argument being made in many states, and people feel so strongly about this issue that advocacy groups dedicated to alimony reform are pushing legislators to change state laws. But no matter how you feel about a given state’s alimony laws, the simple truth is that alimony itself is still very necessary.

In cases where both spouses have worked outside the home and earn substantially similar incomes, spousal support might not make sense. But most of the time when both spouses work, one spouse earns significantly more than the other. And although it is less common than it once was, many couples choose to have one parent stay at home with the children while the other works outside the home. Under these scenarios, spousal support is very practical and necessary.

Some states have rigid alimony laws and a one-size-fits-all template for deciding payment amounts. Missouri does not have set requirements or guidelines for spousal support, nor is spousal support automatic in the event of divorce. This is a good thing, because it gives judges a lot of leeway to decide if spousal support is warranted in a given case and which type of support is most appropriate.

Whether you are seeking spousal support or attempting to avoid a court-order to pay it, you should hire an attorney with a thorough understanding of alimony laws and practices.

Please check back next week as we discuss the six basic types of alimony.

Source: TIME Money, “Alimony Is Broken — But Let’s Not Fix It,” Lili A. Vasileff, Sept. 1, 2014

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