THE BLOG
06/26/2013 02:12 pm ET Updated Aug 26, 2013

Why Don't More Men Ask For Alimony?

An alimony case in Nebraska successfully argued by one of my law firm's attorneys that the law had to be gender blind should serve as a wake-up call to men that asking for alimony should not be shameful or undignified.

The Nebraska Court of Appeals ruled the lower court was reasonable in awarding alimony to the husband, our client, not based on need but on the contributions to the marriage and disparity in income given his wife's inflated salary.

A record 37 percent of married mothers have a higher income than their husbands, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Yet only 3 percent of divorcing men receive alimony, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. (In 2010, there were 12,000 male alimony recipients compared to 380,000 female alimony recipients.)

Gender is not one of the written factors for judges to consider when determining a maintenance award, so why do so few men receive maintenance?

Part of the problem is that men refuse to ask for it.

"Isn't alimony a woman's thing, after all?" guys ask. In theory, no. In practice, sometimes it is.

But should that stop you from making sure you get your fair share and requesting your wife pay you alimony?

At Cordell & Cordell, our attorneys have found guys believe asking for alimony is perceived as a sign of weakness, further emasculating them in a relationship that was already lopsided and broken. If the roles were reversed, the wife would ask for alimony and not blink an eye at an award.

I have found the typical guy in a divorce would rather live in an apartment and eat Ramen noodles and Cheerios to survive than keep fighting with his soon-to-be-ex-wife.

But money is only part of a couples' marital wealth; that the husband did not bring home the bigger paycheck during the marriage does not make him less worthy of money coming out of it.

A man's unpaid work for the yard, home repairs, vehicles, grocery shopping, running errands, fixing everything on his wife's "To Do List" for years, etc., is valuable and deserves compensation.

However, even when guys do ask for maintenance, it's a tougher job persuading the judge that they need it, as opposed to just wanting it for revenge.

Judges are humans, and humans come with a host of preconceptions and assumptions about what men and women should and should not do - who should stay at home with the kids, who should work, who is capable of reviving economically from a divorce faster, etc.

Maintenance is not an absolute right, and the party requesting maintenance has the burden to prove to the court that they are in need of help to provide for their reasonable needs.

But if guys are too afraid, embarrassed, or ashamed to petition for spousal support then do not be surprised if that "97 percent of alimony payers are men" figure remains that lopsided in the coming years.

If you are a man faced with divorce, don't succumb to historically gender biased preconceived notions about what a male can be awarded in a divorce case. Contact a men's divorce lawyer to discuss your options.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.