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Divorce settlements and stay-at-home mothers

| Apr 23, 2019 | Family Law |

Alabama is not a community property state, so when couples get a divorce there, each spouse is entitled to an equitable but not necessarily equal share of marital assets. How to determine what is equitable can be difficult when one spouse was the breadwinner and the other stayed home to raise children. While it may be fairly straightforward to assess the earnings of the spouse who has worked outside the home over the years, it can be more difficult to put a value on the other spouse’s contributions.

Usually, the spouse who stays home is the woman. More than one-fourth of mothers in the United States do, and one in every 10 has a master’s degree or higher. Studies have looked at how this value might be assigned and how people think it should be assessed. In one study, participants read a basic scenario with a stay-at-home mother but different variations. Overall, women tended to think the mother should be awarded more in a divorce. Men tended to award the mother more when she had a higher educational attainment.

Both men and women recognized that there was a value in being a caregiver, but men did not rate it as highly. According to other studies, the mothers in such scenarios generally do not get long-term spousal support.

Getting financial security can be important for a non-earning or lower-earning spouse in a divorce. People who are in this situation might want to work with an attorney to develop a strategy for trying to establish this. This does not necessarily mean heading into the adversarial atmosphere of litigation. Couples may be able to successfully negotiate an agreement or have it resolved through mediation.