Four Divorce Tips for Breadwinner Wives


Remember those ‘70s TV commercials about “bringing home the bacon?”  Roles have shifted. Today, many households have a wife bringing home the majority — or all — of the income not the husband.  Consider these tips if you are a breadwinner wife on the verge of a divorce.

1.  Men can receive spousal support and alimony.  Short-term spousal support is governed by a formula which considers the net income of each spouse.  If a wife earns more than her husband, she might have to pay spousal support during the divorce process …. even if she has shared or primary custody of the children.  Plan for the obligation by setting aside some savings, preferably in your own name, before the divorce process begins. Fortunately, in 2016 the Pennsylvania legislature shortened the waiting period for a no-fault divorce, which will shorten the time you might have to pay.

2.  Fathers and mothers have different roles.  These days, it has become common for fathers and mothers to have equally shared custody.  It can be distressing, because some fathers have not fully developed their parenting skills prior to the divorce. There may be a learning curve, when a father must learn to perform tasks a mother has traditionally performed.  Learn about co-parenting and parallel parenting.  Each parent has an important, but different, role after a divorce. Above all, avoid conflict in front of the children; parental conflict is the most significant factor that can negatively affect children during a divorce.

3.  Is your business all about you?  If you operate a business or practice that attracts customers or clients for your personal skill and reputation, then your business might have an element of “personal goodwill.”  Personal goodwill may not be treated as a marital asset if it cannot be sold with the business.  On the flip side, however, the income generated by personal goodwill might be subject to an alimony obligation.  There are pros and cons each way, which are worth a discussion with your divorce lawyer.

4.  Keep a budget and pay marital debt.  Keeping a budget isn’t about restricting your choices.  It’s about knowledge and control.  If a divorce forces you to tighten your belt, even for a while, you’ll be able to set priorities and make smart choices.  If you earn significantly more than your husband, you might want to use marital assets to pay marital debt, so that it will not be assigned to you in the divorce.

To review your financial situation prior to making major divorce and separation decisions, contact Pollock Begg Komar Glasser & Vertz.