The tables have turned in one important area of divorce law – more and more women are paying child and spousal support instead of receiving them. It is not uncommon for women to earn more than their husbands, and as a result, they end up owing support.

A survey conducted this spring showed that the trend is happening nationwide. According to the survey, 56% of American divorce lawyers have seen more women paying child support during the last 3 years, and 47% have seen an increased number of women paying alimony. While these statistics do not show exactly how many women are paying support, our office has seen a number of cases in which the divorcing wife earns more and has to pay support.

The increases are most certainly due to the fact that women outnumber men in American universities, and the number of women receiving graduate and professional degrees has steadily grown over the last half-century. The recession has also likely contributed to this change, as men, especially those without college degrees, have struggled to find steady work. As a result of their education and men’s struggles, women are making more. So when it comes time to support cases, women are ended up as the “obligor” (the party who owes support).

Women who find themselves responsible for support payments are generally not happy about it. While it is one thing to enjoy having financial independence, it is another thing to have a husband who is legally dependent on you.

What can women do to protect themselves? A prenup is a sensible choice. As I have written before, prenups are the best way for spouses entering a marriage to protect their financial interests in the event of divorce. Women should also be sure to be open with their divorce attorney, making sure to disclose all sources of both parties’ income so that their attorney can best represent their interests in settlement negotiations and in the courtroom.

If you are considering divorce or need help making sense of your current spousal support case, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Petrelli Previtera.