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Studies find complex relationship between income, divorce

On Behalf of | May 13, 2019 | Family Law |

California couples may look at their incomes, which of them makes more money and the size of the disparity to predict one risk factor in their marriage. Studies have indicated that most Americans still tend to think men and not women should be the family breadwinners. However, the percentage of women in cohabiting relationships who earn half or more of the income had increased to almost 33% by 2017 compared to 13% in 1981.

A sociology professor reports that when husbands do not work full time, the risk of divorce increase by 33%. Some women report that husbands who do not work outside the home drive them into debt. However, another study found that men who flash their wealth around are not seen as good potential partners, with participants assuming that a man with more extravagant spending habits might also be more likely to enjoy affairs and short-term relationships. On the other hand, some men who have accumulated a significant number of assets might worry about marrying a woman who makes less than them and what would happen in a divorce.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that more than one-third of wives earn more than their husbands. One study found that the most stability comes in relationships where the husband and wife have roughly equal incomes.

An additional complication in California is that if a couple gets a divorce, assets are supposed to be divided equally. This means that even if one spouse earned substantially less than the other, that spouse may be able to claim half of all of the community property. A higher-earning person may also be required to pay alimony and child support to the person who earned less during the marriage. However, if their income changes after the divorce, a court might agree to a support modification.