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Divorce questions arise when wives earn more

Some Illinois couples, like others across the nation, are struggling with separation and divorce issues in a relatively new field: that of negotiations when the wife earns more than the husband. In the past, wives were almost always the automatic choice for child custody and were also normally awarded alimony or other forms of support. However, in about 16 percent of households today, the wife outearns the husband. This means that divorce mediation or trials may have far different outcomes for both partners than in the past.

One way for both partners to protect their personal assets, especially those earned before the marriage, is to have a prenuptial agreement in place. A prenup can define how property will be divided in case of divorce and help both partners leave the marriage with the assets they brought to the union. Keeping some money separate, in clearly marked accounts, is another way to provide some protection for personal assets. This is especially true for inherited assets; in most cases, it is wise for the spouse who inherited to keep those funds separate in his or her name only.


Spouses who own a business must be especially careful to protect their company from divorce. It may be possible to set up a trust to do this, or there may be other ways, such as insurance, to safeguard a business investment. It is also important for spouses to address any problems such as abuse or violence in the relationship, even if it means somewhat embarrassing revelations.

A family law attorney may be able to help divorcing couples understand their rights and determine the best way to divide assets to protect individual and family finances. Many divorcing spouses find that consulting a family law attorney may help them reach a reasonable agreement.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: When You Earn More Than Your Husband," Jeff Landers, April 10, 2013

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