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As gender roles change, so does divorce

There's little doubt that when a person looks around San Antonio today, they see a city much different than the one that existed two, three or four decades ago. Not only is it much bigger and busier, but the culture here and across the nation has changed as well.

Gender roles have evolved over those years, and that evolution has forced substantial change in a number of areas, including divorce, child custody disputes and spousal maintenance.

It wasn't that long ago that when parents divorced, people assumed the mother would get custody of the kids. Today, fathers and mothers both have reasons to expect to share custody of their children, although in some cases the father will prevail and in others, the mother will be granted custody by a court.

Time magazine recently looked at what it calls "the de-gendering of divorce," noting that no longer should husbands expect to pay alimony (spousal maintenance) or wives expect to receive it.

There are some sound economic reasons for the change in alimony: nearly 40 percent of wives now have greater incomes than their husbands. So if their marriages end, that 40 percent should speak with a family law attorney about the possibility that they might be asked or ordered to pay spousal support.

At one point in the past, the assumption that women would receive alimony made sense. After all, most couples then divided the labor of raising a family, with the husband off to work to earn an income and the wife at home with the children.

But today, many households have more than one spouse earning income. The division of labor inside the home is also often much more blurred than it was in the past.

An experienced attorney can help make Texas divorce law as it exists today much clearer, however. 

Source: Time, "The De-Gendering of Divorce: Wives Pay Ex-Husbands Alimony Too," Liza Mundy, April 16, 2013

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