After years of working towards equality, more women are more frequently than before, finding themselves making great professional and economic strides. As a New Jersey law divorce attorney, it is something I personally witness on a regular basis.
When I represent wives in a divorce case, I cannot help but notice t there are more and more instances when the woman earns more than her husband. It happens for a variety of reasons. Does that matter when it comes to ending a marriage?
The issue generally surfaces in what family law practitioners refer to as high-net marriages. Just recently, the Pew Research Center found that women are moving into higher-skill occupations. While they might not earn the same as their male colleagues, they’re still making more than they did it in the past.
Previously, men dominated the work force and wives stayed home to raise the children. These days, mom may be on a partnership track in any type of professional practice. The couple may decide it proves more advantageous for the wife to further advance her career as a doctor, accountant, or attorney.
Society has evolved to the point that stay-at-home dads are more common than in years past. Some take on part time jobs outside the home. The fact that the wife is the bigger breadwinner is often the deciding factor. Does that matter when it comes to things not working out and divorce papers are filed?
When I meet with either the husband or wife in a prospective divorce action, I am often caught by surprise. Men who earn far less than their spouses have actually expressed their concerns about where to come up with alimony payments. They often breathe a sigh of relief a few minutes into our meeting.
Nearly four decades ago, the United States Supreme Court made it clear in a case named Orr v. Orr. Quite simply, the court ruled that spousal support is gender neutral. As is the case with child support payments, allocations are based on earnings, and in some cases, imputed income.
In some instances, my female clients are acutely aware that alimony laws are gender neutral. They may worry that they will face support obligations for a lifetime Whether it is the wife or husband I represent, I explain the laws on spousal support. Under existing New Jersey law, the rules have changed, and a great many factors go into determining the duration of alimony payments.
In the meantime, the stigma still exists among some men. They feel taking any kind of money from their wife makes them look like a failure. It turns into a battle of the sexes, where pride proves more important than what is fair and just.
Equitable distribution becomes another money factor in divorce matters. Although it sometimes works out that way, New Jersey does not necessarily divide assets equally. Real property is not the only thing subject to distribution. For example, deferred compensation, stocks and 401Ks are also considered marital assets.
For couples with children, custody and parenting time often prove the most important consideration when it comes to splitting up. Once again, the courts are not partial to moms or dads. The best interests of the children remain primary.
No matter the circumstances, deciding to divorce seldom represents an easy decision. As a family law attorney, I find it critical to set realistic expectations and focus on the most economic means of finding the right solutions. I offer complimentary one-hour consultations to meet with prospective clients to discuss their options.
Please feel free to contact me to discuss your individual situation. As you move into the next chapter of your life, I would like to help guide you through the process.