When alimony laws truly gained traction, it was during a time when men and women lived in what some refer to as “separate spheres.” Essentially, it was a societal expectation that men earn the income and women keep the home. In a divorce, alimony was a way to legally recognize the non-monetary efforts of the wife and help compensate the fact that she had sacrificed her earning capacity.

That societal expectation has drastically changed in the recent past for a number of reasons from the women’s rights movement all the way to economic factors such as unemployment. Now, more women are either out-earning their male spouse or acting as the sole breadwinner while the husband stays at home. The result? More and more women are being ordered to pay alimony as a part of a divorce settlement.

The first thing to note about current alimony laws is that spousal support is not automatically granted in every divorce case. When a spouse does request that alimony be awarded, factors including earning capacity, length of marriage, child custody, ability to pay and others, but gender is not one of them even though many studies look at alimony through a gender lens.

Changing societal attitudes, economic factors and more have prompted alimony debate across the nation. Permanent alimony that is available in some states is the major target of this reform, but it isn’t the only one.

Many people have questions about what filing for divorce could mean for them financially. A Utah divorce attorney is the one who can provide answers about spousal support and ensure that a client’s financial interests are protected during divorce.

Source: TIME, “The De-Gendering of Divorce: Wives Pay Ex-Hubands Alimony Too,” Liza