On behalf of The Law Offices of Mary Ann Beaty, PC posted in Divorce on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

Texas readers may have read about the recent discovery of papers from the divorce of film great Charlie Chaplin from his second wife. Filled with salacious details, the papers were apparently found in an abandoned bank property and have been put up for sale at auction. At the time of their divorce in 1927, a court delivered Chaplin’s young wife the largest divorce settlement ever, perhaps recognizing in part the influence he apparently wielded over her future career prospects in the film industry.

Today, courts still recognize that a divorce can have unfair economic effects on one partner or the other, even above and beyond the conventional property division issues. How can you compensate a spouse who has given up a career to raise the children, for example, and suddenly must try to compete in the job market again? Such a partner will be at a serious disadvantage compared to his or her peers in terms of professional experience and development.

Equalizing any such economic effects is one purpose of spousal support, or alimony. Alimony may also serve to maintain the general standard by which a spouse lived during the marriage.

There’s long been a perception of alimony as money paid by a husband to his ex-wife — a perception with some basis in historical fact. However, today, a father who serves as the primary caregiver of his children may be just as likely to receive alimony from an ex-wife with a successful career. It’s important that divorcing men understand this fact today and don’t neglect to consider their legal rights to seek this kind of support, if the situation warrants it.

Alimony is generally a less formal system than child support, with greater leeway afforded to courts in making determinations. We’ll look at how they do so in a follow-up post, reminding our readers that we present this as general information only and not specific legal advice.