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Changes in the family will lead to changes in divorce

The American family, in Colorado as everywhere else, is undergoing fundamental changes. Experts say they are surprised by how rapidly the traditional family has changed. And they say the changes are far from over. Some of these changes in the family may lead to changes in the way people end their marriages.

One of the most striking changes is the increased number of households in which the woman is the main financial provider. Forty percent of women in the U.S. are now their family's primary breadwinner. In 1960, the number was just 11 percent.

Public attitudes have also changed. In the 1970s fewer than half of Americans viewed dual-income families favorably. Today, a majority say the ideal marriage is one in which both partners work and share responsibility for household chores and childcare.

In a related development, people are marrying later. Couples today often wait until both partners are established in a career and have achieved some degree of financial stability before tying the knot.

As women become breadwinners and couples marry later in life, the need for a prenuptial agreement becomes more imperative. When each spouse enters the marriage with their own earning power and with assets they wish to protect, it makes sense to agree in advance how things will be divided in the event of a divorce.

These changes will also have repercussions in the area of spousal support, sometimes called alimony and known in Colorado as maintenance. As the two-earner household becomes the norm, the need for one ex-spouse to provide financial support to the other after a divorce is becoming less common. And in cases where spousal maintenance is awarded in the future, it may be just as likely to be paid by the ex-wife to the ex-husband.

Source: New York Times, "The Changing American Family," Natalie Angier, Nov. 25, 2013

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