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Do men always pay spousal support? Experts say not anymore

The idea of a family in which a father works and a mother stays home to raise children seems to be quickly becoming a thing of the past. Many Massachusetts households have two primary earners, with women’s earnings sometimes outpacing their husbands. In these situations, the traditional idea of spousal support is often reversed.

Current divorce rates for first time marriages hover somewhere between 40 and 50 percent, and the rate is even higher for people on their second, third or fourth marriage. Although not every divorce involves spousal support, many of them do, and historically men have been footing the bill. Now, 45 percent of members responding to a survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial lawyers say they are seeing more and more women paying support to their ex-husbands.

This new norm is showing up in child support, too. An even higher number of attorneys report that their female clients are increasingly responsible for child support payments. These experts also say that most men seem to be quite pleased with this arrangement, despite concern from some that accepting payments from an ex-wife might be emasculating.

Although spousal support and child support payments have largely been a gender issue in divorce, a shift in societal standards is changing that. Massachusetts divorcees who acted as the primary breadwinner or who earned significantly more than their ex will likely end up paying their ex spousal support. This temporary measure is essential for helping individuals who do not have the financial means to fully support themselves after a divorce.

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