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3% of Men are Awarded Spousal Support in Divorce Case

spousal supportMore than 40 years have passed since the Supreme Court ruled that spousal support must be applied equally to both genders, but courts still award it to women far more often than men.

However, the number of men who receive spousal support is increasing – albeit slightly.

Spousal support judgments always have been rare, according to a Reuters article. It was awarded in one out of every four divorce cases in the 1960s, but has dropped to about one in 10 divorces today, said Judith McMullen, a professor of law at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

McMullen found that number to be even lower in one study of Wisconsin cases, where the rate was 8.6 percent.

In Orr v. Orr in 1979, the Supreme Court decided that gender-based divorce statutes that stated only wives were entitled to receive alimony were unconstitutional. As a result, states revised alimony statutes to apply equally to men and women.

Statistics show that of those who receive spousal support today, just three percent are men, according to the 2010 census. That figure is up 0.5 percent since 2000. The fact that 40 percent of households are headed by female breadwinners leads some to believe that there are lots of men who are eligible for spousal support, but don’t get it, according to Forbes.

“I think that in many cases, the reason is due to male pride and the traditional notion that men are the providers,” says San Diego divorce lawyer John Griffith. “Pop culture seems to view men who receive spousal support as sort of a novelty; as something only men who were married to famous women receive.”

These are just a few examples of men who made the news for receiving spousal support:

  • Tennis pro Ryan Sweeting, who was married to Kaley Cuoco, a Big Bang Theory star.
  • Director Guy Ritchie, Madonna’s ex-husband.
  • Comedian Tom Arnold, former husband of comedian/actress Roseanne Barr.
  • Benjamin Indra, who was married to actress Anna Faris.
  • Coleman Laffoon, who is Anne Heche’s ex-husband.
  • Makeup artist Ron Britton, who once was married to actress Kim Basinger.

Some of these men received monthly support, while others got lump sum payouts.

There are numerous examples of alimony reform happening, as legislators throughout the nation have taken on the task of trying to establish calculation guidelines to determine alimony based on a marriage’s duration, and each spouse’s income. The primary goal in many cases appears to be limiting permanent alimony.

In California, couples can define or waive spousal support in their prenuptial agreements. You can receive free help from a family law facilitator in your area regarding many of your spousal support questions, according to the California Courts website. These professionals can help you understand how long the support may last, as well as how it may affect your taxes. They also can help calculate the amount of spousal support you may owe or be due, as well as offer assistance in filling out the necessary court paperwork.

At some point, you may need to consult an attorney to navigate through the entire process. If so, we invite you to call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Meet Your Dedicated San Diego Family Attorneys
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS
Family Attorney John N. Griffith, CFLS

Family Attorney, John N. Griffith, CFLS

John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization.


Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.
Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

Family Attorney, Catie E. Young, ESQ.

San Diego family lawyer Catie Young has a wide range of litigation experience. She has worked in civil litigation. She has successfully represented clients in many areas of family law including child support, child custody, divorce and domestic violence. She has a unique approach to each child custody case, so clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases.


Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.
Family Attorney Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Family Attorney, Amy J. Lass, Esq.

Amy Lass was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting and went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006. Amy takes a practical and cost considerate approach to the process while striving to balance the emotional needs and objectives of her clients.


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The Typical Divorce Process in California
Discovery of Assets & Obligations (1-3 months)
1 Complaint for Divorce Filed Start of litigation
2 Complaint is Served Varies, but usually shortly after the complaint is filed
3 Answer to Complaint Due 30 days from the date of service
4 Mediation Anytime, but usually after initial discovery
5 Temporary Hearing Usually early in the process
6 Late Case Evaluation / Judicial Hosted Settlement Conference Usually near the end of the case
7 Trial (If Needed) The goal is to settle, but if your case goes to trial, it could take months after the start of litigation.
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