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More women paying alimony, stigma fading around prenups

More women in Virginia and across the country are paying child support and alimony, according to a survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The AAML study found that 45 percent of lawyers saw an increase in the number of women being ordered to pay spousal support in the past three years. For the same time period, 54 percent of lawyers said they saw a rise in the number of mothers making child support payments.

Traditionally, husbands and fathers have been more likely to pay alimony and child support than wives and mothers. According to the president of the AAML, the woman would typically receive alimony after a divorce. However, women are now more likely to work in higher-paid positions. Pew Research has reported that women are the primary financial earners in four of 10 families in the U.S.

Spousal support has changed since the idea became common in family courts. For example, many states have moved away from permanent spousal support following divorce. If both parties are capable of working, there is generally an expectation that they will each work to support themselves.

The president of the AAML said young couples should consider signing prenuptial agreements. She added that prenuptial agreements are increasingly common for young people. The co-founder of SAS for Women, a divorce-coaching service, said a prenup shouldn't be viewed as a negative spell for a marriage. Rather, a prenup is evidence of prudence and savviness.

In a case where a couple is divorcing or approaching divorce, an attorney may be able to help. Legal counsel with experience in family law could negotiate a property settlement or argue on the client's behalf during child custody proceedings. For young couples considering prenuptial agreements, an attorney may address potential areas of disagreement or draft a contract that reflects the desires of the parties.

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