Divorce comes with a myriad of changes for the separated spouses and their children. There are child custody arrangements, moving out and finding a new residence, adjusting socially, and many more. The financial aspect of divorce cannot be ignored, and the consequences can last a lifetime. Separating couples need to think long and hard about what happens to the family's finances, especially when children are involved.
San Diego Divorce Attorney handles tons of divorces where the man or woman are the breadwinners or both. Every client has one goal in mind; to separate and still be financially stable so they can move on with their lives after the decree is granted. Our divorce attorneys are experts at handling financial matters, and we do everything we can to help you get a fair settlement. In this article, we will look into what happens when you are the breadwinner in a divorce.
Female Breadwinners in Divorce
The feminist movement has come a long way since the women’s suffrage campaign started in 1848, and it soon morphed to join the broader conversation about women's rights. In 2009, the feminist views Bureau of Labor Statistics derived that 9% of women were the sole income earners in their families. There has been significant progress in women's earnings, and in 2016, data showed that 29% of married women earned more than their husbands.
The many gains accrued notwithstanding, working women still earn significantly less than their male counterparts. This pay disparity means families with female breadwinners don't always fare well, especially after a divorce. More so, ingrained social norms have sustained an atmosphere that is not so accepting of a woman making more money than their husbands.
Research by the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that when a wife takes home more than her husband, the marriage dynamic suffers. She spends considerably more time handling domestic chores, there is less marriage satisfaction, and subsequently, the union doesn't last. Other studies indicate that when a woman is the sole income earner, the couple is more susceptible to infidelity from both sides.
No matter how long you have been married, your husband has likely experienced your professional success very differently. You may have been gracious – or not so kind – about promotions and pay increases, but inadequacies may have plagued him. The tension that may or may not have led to the ultimate demise of your relationship will be more pronounced.
Your soon-to-be husband may take out his frustration on you and demand too much alimony. They may also be afraid of financial hardships after divorce. Regardless of who gets custody, women breadwinners can expect a fight over the divorce settlement. As you may have gleaned by now, traditional gender roles are still unshakable, so prepare yourself accordingly.
Child Custody Arrangements
Custody refers to legal and physical authority concerning children born inside the marriage and children adopted from previous relationships. The state of California stipulates that both parents have equal rights to their children, and a family court judge cannot favor one parent over their gender. Family courts usually adhere to "the best interest of the child" gold standard. Therefore, custody arrangements in San Diego County are primarily based on two guiding policies:
- The safety, health, and welfare of kids after divorce
- The advantages of continued access and relationship with both parents
The judge will consider the above factors first and then any other concerns depending on your specific case. When it comes to a child's health and safety, a family court judge will consider things like domestic violence, children conceived of rape, substance abuse, etc. If one parent is known to be physically aggressive, they will not be granted custody. The judge may allow supervised visitations, for instance, on the weekends.
Please note, being the breadwinner does not necessarily mean you get full custody as the children will benefit from having access to both parents. What's more, the courts usually consider the preferences of older children; do they wish to live with their mother or father? In this case, a teenager may prefer to reside with an easy-going parent, regardless of their income.
Co-parenting skills are another vital aspect that a family court judge will examine. Parents who use children as pawns to hurt the other parent are not appreciated. It is not uncommon to find one parent bad mouthing the other, so children can find them unappealing. These unsavory methods are looked down upon, and they can cost you, the breadwinner, child custody.
San Diego Divorce Attorney advises warring parents to not interfere with each other's contact with children, and not make unfounded accusations. Let us negotiate a workable parenting arrangement on your behalf and ensure the kids' needs prevail over all other matters.
Possible Financial Decline
Finances take a substantial hit when the divorce process is underway due to hiring attorneys, living in separate homes, buying a new car, etc. Things get direr when the divorce is finalized, and the new family dynamic starts to take shape; who pays the mortgage, who pays for groceries and utility bills, etc. Many myths abound regarding the financial decline of separated couples, and while many statistics are not accurate, it is apparent that women take the biggest hit.
The most reliable source is a dossier titled "The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America." This report surmises that a woman's financial status declines by 27% while a man's financial situation increases by 10% after divorce. According to this research, the disparity of income after divorce is not necessarily pegged on women making unwise decisions after going their separate ways. Instead, the entire divorce system is seemingly designed not to favor women, but your fate is not sealed just yet.
The biggest problem we have seen with both men and women seeking a divorce is failing to see the complete financial picture. Money is a sensitive subject in many relationships, including excellent unions, and not having an accurate picture of where things stand can create a false reality. You may be living in a great neighborhood, taking your kids to a fancy prep school, and going for summer vacations. From the outside looking in, your finances appear in better shape than average families.
Nonetheless, living large does not always mean having a free bank account. You could be drowning in debt knowingly, or one partner is oblivious of the looming financial woes. We previously touted the feminist movement for making great strides for women on many fronts. However, there are still many marriages where women don't have input on how the family's money is spent. This oversight is common in homes where the husband is the sole breadwinner. There are reports that only a measly 24% of women are responsible for everyday financial decisions in their homes.
Whether you have been involved in the family's finances during a marriage or not, we advise couples to take a deep dive into their assets (income, expenses, and debt). California is a community property state, which means you are entitled to 50% of all assets accrued in the course of the marriage. Be careful, though; partners can go to extreme lengths to hide income and property while presenting all debt so you can split the bill.
The economic decline after divorce can also happen because child support usually doesn't cover all money-related issues for the children. The base child support generally caters for reasonable living expenses and not the actual cost of raising a child from whatever age they are until they graduate college. You may get a figure that doesn't cover extracurricular activities such as piano lessons or learning French. These are skills you figure could give your offspring a leg up in society.
If you are not careful with the projected budget, you could get stuck with mounting bills that your ex-partner refuses to pay. They can do so for despite having a more solid financial footing. Also, fathers are more likely to pursue reimbursement of these extra costs than mothers.
Preempt such unpleasant situations by itemizing every foreseeable expenditure so child support can be computed accurately. If you are the breadwinner, it is vital that you actively participate in this conversation, so you are not taken advantage of by a greedy ex-spouse.
Tax Implications for Alimony
The breadwinner will be charged with paying child support and alimony until the court decides otherwise. Child support does not have tax implications on the payer or the recipient, which is terrific news to both parties. Maintenance, on the other hand, comes with tax implications on the recipient, which means you lose a portion of the amount stipulated for every month.
Alimony is usually calculated based on the income of the breadwinning spouse and how long the marriage lasted. The higher the income, the more money you can expect. Also, if you were married for many years, a judge is more likely to grant you better terms than if the marriage lasted a few months.
Research shows that women are the majority of alimony recipients, even if more women are becoming breadwinners. In 2014, Forbes published a series of reports on alimony where they examined why a disproportionate number of women receive spousal maintenance than men. According to Census data, only 3% of men were getting alimony that year, even if 40% of these households had females as the primary income earners.
This data points to a simple fact that more men are eligible for spousal support but refuse to pursue it while women have no qualms demanding for it. Family attorneys deduce that pride and clinging to customary gender roles are significant reasons why men decline alimony in the 21st Century. Ancient stereotypes that a successful man is one who pays his bills and the gnawing fear of being emasculated shape this decision.
Some men are so proud that they attribute asking for alimony to begging, perhaps due to the battles that ensue when female breadwinners are asked to pay. Evidently, our society has not caught up with the feminist views we keep hearing as many women still consider paying alimony as taboo. Having to fight for spousal maintenance seems frivolous, but it can mean having a better financial standing in a challenging economy. Men should not be shamed into walking away empty-handed, and women should not be bullied into accepting lowball offers from ex-partners.
In this line of work, we encounter many scenarios where spouses are eligible for alimony but refuse to ask for it. Alternatively, the would-be payer challenges this request — the spouse who writes alimony checks parts with some money every month. The recipient must be well-informed and understand the tax implications of this spousal maintenance.
Prepare for Things Not Going Your Way
In general, the breadwinning spouse needs to be prepared for less than ideal outcomes. Being open to a reality where the parent who stays home is granted custody while you get visitation. As mentioned earlier, California follows two central policies when determining child custody and the needs of the child always take center stage.
You may have to vacate the primary residence, so the kids and the custodial parent live in a stable environment. Such an outcome would mean you continue paying the mortgage, child support, and spousal support while renting an apartment. We like to prepare our clients for all possible scenarios, so they commence the divorce process duly informed.
Find A San Diego Divorce Attorney Near Me
After years of trying to salvage your marriage, you may find heading for a divorce as the only recourse, so that the agony can end. We at San Diego Divorce Attorney have a wealth of experience litigating divorces and helping our clients reach the best possible outcome.
If you are the primary income earner, the chances are that you will have to pay child and spousal support. We will help you reach an agreeable financial settlement, so you are not left in financial ruin post-divorce. Call us today at 858-529-5150 to speak to our divorce experts.