One of the potentially uncomfortable aspects of the alimony reform debate in Florida is the perception that the two sides are largely divided by gender. The side that wants to restrict permanent alimony is portrayed as mostly male, and those who do not want the law to change is supposed to be mostly female.

The idea is that women are the ones who receive spousal support after divorce, so that they are motivated to allow alimony to continue. Meanwhile, men are supposedly the only ones who pay alimony, and thus want to pay less.

But in real life we cannot put everybody into a box so easily. More and more, ex-husbands are receiving spousal support from their ex-wives.

It is true that the vast majority of alimony recipients are women. According to the 2010 U.S. Census report, only 3 percent of people receiving alimony were male. But the trend appears to be moving toward greater gender equity in this statistic.

It should not take very long. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported a survey of its members in which 47 percent reported that more women were paying alimony.

A big part of this trend has to do with changing divisions of labor in the home. More and more women are the primary breadwinners in their relationship. Many of those marriages end in divorce. Thus, in those cases, the spouse experiencing the greater loss of income is probably male.

Traditionally, women were thought to be unable to work to support themselves after divorce. But now, more men are taking care of the home and acting as the primary child-raiser. That means that they may struggle to recoup the lost income after divorce. This is what spousal support is supposed to make up for.

Source: Reuters, “More men get alimony from their ex-wives,” Geoff Williams, Dec. 24, 2013