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More stay-at-home husbands means more men will get alimony

The last several decades have seen a significant growth in the number of women in the workforce, in Colorado and throughout the country. But the highest levels of some industries are still dominated by men. One of these industries is banking. A recent news article focused on a group of women who have broken into the top ranks of the financial industry, and found that many of them got there in part because they have an advantage many of the men take for granted: a stay-at-home spouse.

According to census data, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of women in the financial industry whose husbands stay at home. The women say their success is directly related to their husbands' taking over domestic tasks. The men have different feelings about their role. Those who have left their own careers to support their wives worry about whether they'll someday be able to get back into the workforce.

When a couple divorces and one spouse has given up a career to stay at home, the court will often award the stay-at-home spouse alimony, which is referred to in Colorado as maintenance. Although in the past alimony was usually paid by ex-husbands to ex-wives, that is changing. The monthly payment is designed to help a spouse of either gender get on their feet financially after depending on their spouse's income.

In Colorado, a new spousal maintenance law is set to take effect on January 1 of next year. The new law will apply advisory guidelines and use a formula to calculate a recommended monthly payment. The formula starts with 40 percent of the income of the higher earning spouse, deducts 50 percent of the income of the other spouse, and then makes some other adjustments. Judges are not obligated to follow the formula, but if most of them do it will make maintenance more predictable.

Source: New York Times, "Wall Street Mothers, Stay-Home Fathers," Jodi Kantor & Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Dec. 7, 2013

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