There is no doubt that women have traditionally received alimony more often than men. However, men should understand that they have just as much right to spousal support as their wives if the circumstances were reversed. You should not sell yourself short and should not allow your attorneys to sell you short in receiving the support you need and deserve.
As we’ve written in other blogs, alimony can be ordered in Michigan after medium to long term marriages where, among other factors, there is significant disparity between the parties’ income and where one party has a “need” for support and the other party has the “ability to pay” that support. Surely you’ve heard of couples where the wife earns more than the husband – where perhaps the husband has been a stay-at-home parent in support of his wife’s career, or perhaps the husband is disabled or laid off due to a downturn in his career. And yet, traditionally, relatively few men have received alimony from their ex-wives. The question is why?
There are a number of things at play here. Even though the law concerning spousal support is “gender neutral,” i.e. not favoring one sex over the other, the application of the law is too often tainted with bias against men. Even now in 2017, there remains an unfair stigma against men as they are viewed as being self-sufficient even when the facts don’t support that conclusion. We find that judges, mediators, arbitrators and opposing attorneys need to be reminded that this is an improper application of the law. Men can have just as much need for support as women. In the same way as we can show that many men are the primary caregivers of children in a custody dispute, we can show that men have an inferior ability to earn and therefore support themselves post-divorce.
The bias in the application of spousal support law can affect the attitudes of higher income earning women, as well. Many women cannot wrap their heads around being asked to support their ex-husbands, and this can make it very difficult to settle cases. With women having received the wrong advice from their friends, the media or even their own attorney, it can be a stark reality to accept having to pay.
Not surprisingly, men are often their own worst enemies in obtaining support for themselves. Having been inundated with the pressures of society to be self-sufficient and not to count on their wives for financial help, men have a hard time recognizing that such support is not only necessary but fair. Having an attorney that can clearly explain this and not let you sell yourself short is key in overcoming this attitude. While we recognize that it is ultimately the client’s decision to seek alimony or not, it is the attorney’s job to let him know he has the option.
The good news is that in nearly 30 years of representing men in divorce, ADAM has been successful in getting alimony awarded in countless cases. Attitudes of judges, attorneys and individual parties are slowly changing, and progress is being made to ensure that a worthy male candidate for support receives it just as often as a wife might under the same facts. It is not always an easy sell, but it is possible, and it is the right thing to do.
About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)
The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.