Many people believe that women have all the rights when it comes to divorce. They believe that Courts have a bias towards women. This may have been true in the mid to later part of the 20th century when women were just beginning to join the work force in substantial numbers after World War II. Most divorced women at this time had been homemakers so the incidence of alimony, child support and a larger share of property division were more likely.

Because women today make up half the workforce this has changed—women’s rights in divorce have changed.

  • Alimony – It is as likely for a woman if she is the higher wage earner to have to pay alimony to the husband who makes less or was a stay-at-home dad, as it is for a man to have to pay alimony to the woman who stayed at home as a housewife with the kids. In cases where alimony is awarded to the wife, it is more likely to be rehabilitative in nature, allowing the wife to receive it for a limited time until she has regained work skills. Permanent alimony is generally awarded to a woman if she has a mental or physical limitation that prevents her from entering the workforce or if the marriage was of significant duration to allow for permanent alimony.
  • Before the days of the women’s rights movement when women and children were considered the property of the husband, a husband had control over custody issues. In the 20th century, women were more likely to be awarded custody especially when children were young. Today it is not a given that a woman will be awarded custody of the children. As fathers take a more active role in the parenting of their children, more and more fathers are seeking and receiving custody of their children. There is also a greater move toward equal parenting.

The change in gender roles in society involving work, marriage, and childrearing has changed those notions that women have all the rights in divorce. Women make up half the student body populations in law school and more women are gaining the bench. The result is that while women have their rights in divorce men and women are more and more likely to be treated equally.


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