When there's an income disparity among a married California couple, a divorce could lead to an alimony settlement. Although spousal support originally arose during a time when wives lacked the financial means to support themselves, modern laws look at spousal income instead of spousal gender. In 1979, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that family law would view alimony decisions in a gender-neutral light. The result has been that ex-wives now sometimes pay ex-husbands alimony. Given the historical context, women often do not expect this financial burden when ending a marriage.