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The “Manimony” Paradox: Why Men Don’t Ask For Alimony

Home / Divorce Blog / The “Manimony” Paradox: Why Men Don’t Ask For Alimony

Many men going through divorce feel like asking for alimony is a sign of weakness, and refuse to take money from their higher-earning ex-wives. It makes great headlines, a famous actress divorces her husband and is forced to pay alimony. The news media jumps all over the ex-husband asking why he can’t get a job. It even has its own term, “Manimony.”

Spousal support laws are supposed to be gender neutral. After divorce, men have as much of a right to receive alimony as women. In practice however, husbands receive maintenance far less often than wives. A recent study found that 37% of married mothers have a greater income than their husbands. Yet, only 3% of men receive spousal support after a divorce.

Clearly, millions of higher earning divorced women are getting off without paying alimony.

Why is there such a disparity? Can it simply be explained away by male pride and fear of being a “Manimony” recipient? Perceptions and traditional ideas about marriage often play a large role in decisions about spousal maintenance. Here are three common misconceptions which lead many husbands not to ask for alimony during a divorce.

It’s Only for Women
It is easy to understand why many men feel alimony is only for women. There is a common mental image of spousal support recipients being unemployed middle aged women who gave up careers to raise children. Not only is such a mental image stuck in the 1950’s, it is also a misunderstanding of the law.

Alimony laws recognize that both spouses contributed to the marriage and its not equitable that one spouse be forced to a lower standard of living simply because of differences in income. To put it another way, your ex-wife doesn’t get to live in a beach house in Malibu while you are forced into an economy apartment downtown. Men have a right to ask for spousal support to maintain their standard of living after the divorce.

I Wasn’t a Stay at Home Dad
Some men dismiss the idea of alimony because they think it is only for stay at home parents. While it is true that many parents who gave up careers to raise children receive spousal support, there are many other factors that go into deciding if alimony is awarded. How long were you and your wife married? What decisions did you make together about work, education, and child care during your marriage? Did you support her while she got an advanced degree? Did you relocate to another city for her career? Did you work a less demanding job so that you could be home for the children while she worked 15 hour days?

When considering alimony, make a list of all the ways you helped and supported your wife on the path to her high paying career. While you were married, you benefited from that higher income you helped her achieve. Now that you are getting divorced, you still deserve to benefit. This is how spousal maintenance gives spouses equal footing after a divorce.

I’m Not Unemployed
Husbands going through divorce often think that alimony is only for the unemployed. How can a man who is successful in his career and has a high income ask for spousal support? When talking about alimony, it is important to remember that it is not based on your income. No matter how much money a husband makes, if his wife has a higher income he can and should ask for spousal maintenance. Alimony is not just for unemployed spouses or spouses who need to go back to school.

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