When most people in Smyrna hear the word “alimony” they think of men paying their ex-wives because of their disparate earnings. For a long time the spousal support system in Cobb County and across the United States helped women who were unable to earn as much as their former husbands avoid poverty and continue to have a decent standard of living following a divorce.

Times have changed, however, and there are an increasing number of women who are being ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husbands. Although many women are unhappy to have to pay to maintain a former spouse’s standard of living, this shift in who is paying alimony indicates that women are making more money.

Over the past three years, there has been a 47 percent increase in the number of women paying alimony, says the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The organization has polled divorce lawyers across the country and found that there has also been an increase in the number of women paying child support, up 56 percent.

Many have seen women climb and sometimes surpass men in the career world. Approximately 40 years ago, it would not have been strange for a graduating law school class to only have 4 or 5 percent women. Similarly, only one-third of the doctors graduating from medical school in 1980 were women. Now, the rate is about half.

As women continue to earn higher positions and start to outpace their spouses in earning potential, they will most likely find themselves paying more in alimony to their exes.

Source: Reuters, “Divorce courts mirror society as more women pay alimony,” Patricia Reaney, May 10, 2012