THE BLOG
05/25/2011 12:40 pm ET | Updated Jul 25, 2011

Manimony After Matrimony?

Take a moment right now and imagine this divorcing couple:

One person earns $400,000 a year in a high-powered job. The other is staying home with the kids and taking a career break. The stay-at-home spouse wants financial support from the working spouse. Seems logical, right?

But, who is the woman and who is the man and should that make a difference?

Traditionally, the man has been the one earning the big bucks while the woman puts her career on hold to take care of the kids.

Today, more and more women are considered the breadwinners of their family. In fact, in some households, the women are making all the money. That's fine in a healthy marriage, but when the couple is heading to splitsville, the equation becomes very, complicated and the parties... beyond bitter!

I see this type of situation all the time with women who are successful business owners, CEOs and executives. They've been the top, or only earner in the family. Then, all of a sudden, they're getting a divorce and are expected to support their husbands with what's now being dubbed as manimony. Let's just say my clients that fall into this category aren't too pleased about supporting their exes.

There really are two valid sides to this argument. If you think about it, men have been paying spousal support for years to their ex-wives who are staying home to raise the kids. Many of these stay-at-home moms have argued they gave up a career to raise a family and are entitled to compensation for that sacrifice.

After all, the goal of spousal maintenance is to financially support someone who cannot support himself or herself after the marriage ends. So does it really matter if that someone is a man or woman?

Women argue even if they are the CEO of their own company, for example, they are still often the CEO of the house as well. The school calls them when the kids are sick. These moms still take the kids to the dentist, doctor and extracurricular activities and often wake up in the middle of the night when the child is sick. These high-powered female executives argue because they are moms, by definition, the bulk of the care seems to rest on their shoulders. They're doing double-duty, so to speak, and don't want to send a check to their ex every month because they don't believe he bares the brunt of the single parent job.

So, you see, the debate is heated. The players have changed sides and therefore, changed the game when it comes to spousal support. How do you avoid the contention? It's simple: a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Sure these documents may seem unromantic or unnecessary for a couple that is "so in love." But, when it comes to matters of the heart, it can pay-off to use your head. I've surely worked with men and women who wished they had!