When a woman is middle-aged, she has hot flashes, bloating and hormonal imbalances. When a man reaches this stage in his life he gets a new sports car and a younger woman.
This may sound sexist, but the woman is usually the one who quits work to raise the kids and manage the house. The man has been in the work place longer, and is not as likely to be left without resources when the marriage ends.
Still, the court can award maintenance to either party if the need is there.
Divorcing couples are often angry, and willing to leave each other in the lurch. Bills the couple used to share can suddenly be left in 1 person’s lap.
Cars can be repossessed or mortgages foreclosed, utilities turned off or the family placed on very short rations if one of the wage earners suddenly leaves the home. This is why the divorce court can make the absent spouse pay support until the other person has a chance to find work and get back on his / her feet.
When the marriage ends, the court can award continued support to the lower wage earner in some cases. If one of the parties is disabled and cannot support him / herself, the court can make the other spouse pay maintenance for the rest of the disabled spouse’s life. If one of the parties must stay home to care for a disabled child, the ex-husband / wife can be forced to help financially.
In some cases, the higher wage earner may have to put his / her ex through school or training if the marriage caused him / her to put career goals on hold. The wife who put her husband through medical school would be an example of this kind of maintenance.
It is easier to get temporary support. All the needy spouse has to show is that he / she needs help to adjust to the financial demands of his / her new life alone. It is an income issue at that point, and the courts recognize that one party should not be able to leave the other person high and dry.
In most cases, spousal maintenance is only temporary. Unless there is a disability on the spouse’s or child’s side, it will only last long enough for the other spouse to get back on his / her feet.