Increase in Women Paying Child and Spousal Support

Mothers are the primary or sole breadwinner in 40% of US homes with children, says a 2013 study.  One in four households is headed by a single mother.  Gender stereotypes are breaking down in many areas of American life.  Women are coming farther in the workforce these days than ever before and that is having an impact of the family structure.

All of the above trends are having an effect on family law and particularly on divorce outcomes.  In a divorce matter today, the court can no longer assume that the father is the primary breadwinner and the mother is the primary caretaker of children.  Despite claims of gender neutral laws relating to family matters, it is obvious that courts of the past operated with certain stereotypes in mind.  Now, it is becoming more widely accepted that the wife could be the primary source of financial support for the family while the husband cares for the children at home.  If this is the case, it is likely that the court will award the father primary custody of the children and order the wife to pay child and spousal support.

Arizona law dictates that child support is to be calculated based on the income shares model.  The income shares model considers the total amount the parents would spend on the child if the family lived together  After determining that amount, the court takes into consideration who has primary custody, whether it be the mother or the father, and then determines which spouse must pay child support and in what amount.  In this way, both parents contribute their share.

Spousal support guidelines are state specific.  Most states consider various factors including but not limited to the length of the marriage, the need for financial support and the ability to pay support.  Arizona courts consider whether the spouse seeking maintenance has sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs, whether they can become self-sufficient by becoming employed or for some reason cannot and whether they contributed to the other spouse’s educations.  The main point is that the gender of the giving and receiving spouse is not a factor when deciding on spousal or child support.

Another interesting statistic is that one in six fathers have primary custody of their children.  This was almost unheard of 50 years when usually only widowers took primary care of their children.  Also, we have all heard of deadbeat dads who do not pay their child support.  But what about deadbeat moms?  It seems that about the same number of women as men (about one third) don’t pay their child support.

If you are a father who is seeking primary custody of your children, child support and/or spousal support, call Nirenstein Garnice at (480)351-4804 for a free consultation.