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Are alimony payments influencing women’s financial well-being?

Virtually no one in California goes into a divorce wanting to come out on the end with a lower financial status, but this is the reality that some individuals face. TV shows and movies tend to focus on how women “win” divorces through a variety of means — including child support and alimony — but is this portrayal true to real life? As it turns out, it’s not very similar at all.

A study focusing on post-divorce earnings found that divorced men did far better than their female counterparts. While men see an average of a 30 percent increase in their income after divorce, women who were employed either before or during marriage actually earn about 20 percent less. Some might be eager to hold on to the myth of women cashing in big on divorces by pointing out that some women receive alimony or other financial support, but the study does not support that idea, either. Divorced women have a poverty rate of 27 percent. For divorced men, that rate is barely one-third of that.

One of the researchers in the study explained that these gaps might be less about the differences between women and men, and more about the differences between mothers and fathers. Mothers are typically expected to take time away from work in order to raise children. Re-entering the workforce after taking time away to care for family can result in stunted earnings.

Of course both men and women can experience financial burdens during and after a divorce, and highlighting the difficulties experienced by divorced mothers is not to downplay the troubles that fathers face. Instead, California couples who intend to divorce should be sure to make financial concerns a priority during proceedings. While alimony, child support and other costs can influence a person’s post-divorce financial standing, keeping a mindful outlook can help prevent any unseen burdens.

Source: The Atlantic, “The Divorce Gap“, Darlena Cunha, April 28, 2016