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Should A Rape Conviction Against Ex Change Alimony Setup

An out-of-state divorce case became complicated by a criminal case. The situation calls into question whether changes need to be made regarding alimony in the family’s state (California).

The wife accused her husband of sexual assault, but that criminal trial did not end until after divorce requirements were made by a judge. Her ex was later convicted of sexually assaulting his wife, who had already been ordered by the family court to pay her husband alimony following their divorce.

According to ABC News, the wife was the money-making, career person in the family, while the husband took care of the children. This is becoming a more common family dynamic in the U.S., leading to more men earning alimony payments when their marriages are over. The spouse who earns less tends to be awarded spousal support payments by the courts, unless an arrangement is otherwise stipulated in a prenuptial agreement or other marital contract.

The question that this specific alimony case presents is whether a spouse who’s been convicted of committing a sexually violent crime against his ex should be eligible to receive alimony payments. The wife in this case argues that she, and others in her position, should not have to pay spousal support to an abuser.

She is participating in a charge in her state to pass a law that would further the current law that says a spouse who has tried to kill his or her spouse can’t receive support. The law would change to also include violent sexual assault as a crime that would prohibit the offender from living off of his or her abused ex’s alimony.

Opponents of the legislative idea worry that the change would potentially lead to false accusations of sexual violence or a system tendency to rule in favor of women in family law matters. Supporters of the proposal, however, see the change as a way to protect already abused victims from continued abuse (in the form of money lost) at the hands of their exes.

Source: ABC News, “Sexual Assault Victim Ordered to Pay Alimony to Attacker Fights to Change California Law,” Juju Chang, April 5, 2012

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