Is alimony still needed? The facts must be considered

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

A recent New York Times article by Stephanie Coontz discussed the impact of gender equality on the modern marriage and the workplace. So the question arises, in view of reported findings, should alimony remain a component of the divorce process?

The following are some issues mentioned in the article that , although not discussed in the context of alimony, need to be considered by lawmakers and judges when determining the appropriateness of alimony:

1. We all know that men are paid more than women when at comparable educational levels and jobs.

2. Almost 30% of “retired” mothers who tried to re-enter the workforce could not do so.

3. Of the remaining 70% who were able to re-enter the workplace, only 40% were able to find full-time professional opportunities.

4. The average college-educated woman lost over $1 million over her lifetime when she chose to stay at home and care for children.

5. Although many fathers express a desire for equal child care responsibilities, only 30% actually do take on that workload.

6. When work conflicts with child care it is usually the woman who takes on the responsibilities of home and hearth.

6. Mothers, when parenting, are more likely to be penalized at their jobs than fathers.

7. Researchers Phillip and Carolyn Cowan find that “the woman resents that she is not getting the shared child care she expected and envies her husband’s social network outside the home. The husband feels hurt that his wife isn’t more grateful for the sacrifices he is making by working more hours so she can stay home.” A no winner for the health of a marriage.

8. The division of labor in caring for children causes stress in a marriage which can be a factor in the breakdown of the marriage.

The continuing need for alimony in the modern era is a hot topic in divorce courts and state legislatures. Certainly these documented statistics need to be taken into account when determining the appropriateness of financial support as a component of family law.


Brooks Melly and Caroline Hirschfeld

The authors are the founders of

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