What Breadwinner Wives Should Know Before Divorce

Posted on Oct 21, 2013 by Katie Carter

Being the higher wage earner in your marriage gives you a lot more control over your divorce than you would have if you were the spouse who earned less. It used to be that the majority of women that came into our offices earned less than their husbands. Whether they were stay at home moms, or whether they had professional careers, in most cases these women scaled back their responsiblities in order to be more available at home. Not only that, but, historically speaking, women have earned far less than men. Though we often had good cases for spousal support in cases like that, our clients felt like their husbands were calling the shots and that they were dependent on them for their future survival, even after entry of the final divorce decree.

In a case where the wife earns more, as we’re seeing more and more often, we’re in the driver’s seat, rather than the husband, and that's a pretty powerful thing.

Of course, there are some down sides—sometimes, that means that our client has to pay spousal support. At the same time, though, it is often the higher earning spouse that bounces back much more quickly post-divorce than the lower earning spouse. Think about it: if you’re working and you have independent income, you’re not stressing about the spousal support check coming in every month. You can maintain your own health insurance, too. In terms of practical problems (like, how are the bills going to get paid on time?) and also in terms of self-esteem and confidence later on, these women often come out ahead of the pack.

It’s a tough world out there for divorced women who make less than their husbands. Statistically, they are more likely to be close to or below the poverty line than other women, which makes it hard to rebound after divorce.

Our clients who make more than their husbands are often dismayed to find that they may have to pay spousal support, or give a share of their hard-earned retirement to their husbands. I won’t dispute that there is a significant financial cost attributed to getting divorced, but I would argue that these women are in a far, far better position than their husbands, who have to depend on their ex-wives for their present and future well-being.

If you're a woman and also the main breadwinner in your family, you should feel encouraged and optimistic. But you'll also need an experienced divorce attorney on your side, helping to protect what you've earned. Call our office at (757) 425-5200 to schedule a confidential appointment today.