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More women now paying alimony and child support

People often assume that the majority of child support payments are sent to mothers from fathers, but new data suggests a growing number of women are responsible for such payments. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers, 45 percent of lawyers saw an increase in women paying alimony while 54 percent saw an increase in mothers paying child support. These trends may impact family courts in Pennsylvania and across the United States.

One of the reasons for the shift is the increased earning power of women, who previously tended to make less than men and therefore were less likely to be on the hook for child support. Even after divorce, stay-at-home mothers tended to maintain the role of primary caregiver while fathers were breadwinners. This has shifted in recent years, with mothers being the primary breadwinners in four out of 10 U.S. families.

Women with a history of being the breadwinner in the family will be expected by courts to continue paying for child-related expenses. If the former husband is the primary child care provider and has majority custody, this usually means paying child support to the father. This also applies to alimony, as spousal support cases have been gender neutral under the law since a 1979 Supreme Court decision.

Paying alimony can be emotionally difficult for men and women alike. Child support can sometimes be less controversial, but when custody disputes are added into the mix, they can still be contentious. Pennsylvania women and men alike should have independent legal council from a family lawyer when navigating this terrain.

Source:, "More women are now paying alimony and child support", Meera Jagannathan, May 17, 2018

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