In a recent survey of family law attorneys in California and throughout the country, a majority of respondents reported that they have seen an increase in women paying child and spousal support following a break-up or divorce. Specifically, 56 percent of the 1,600 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers have seen an increase in mothers paying child support, and 47 percent have seen a jump in women paying alimony in the last three years.

According to AAML president-elect Alton Abramowitz, the increase is reflective of a shift in our society as a whole. "It shows that women have really moved up financially and that in many instances they are the major bread winners in a lot of families," he told Reuters. "More women have taken over the financial responsibilities and have been saddled with them as well. It is a fact of the way our society has evolved over the last number of years."

Education has played a large part in the growing number of women who are out-earning their husbands or significant others. In 1980, according to the Digest of Education Statistics, women received only one-third of the medical degrees awarded in the United States. Today, women earn about half of those degrees.

Interestingly, Abramowitz says, women are no less frustrated than men at having to pay spousal support to their ex-spouses. "We see women who are every bit as angry as their male counterparts, maybe more so," he said, "when they are confronted with the concept of paying spousal support to a man."

Source: Reuters, "Divorce courts mirror society as more women pay alimony," Patricia Reaney, May 10, 2012