How are assets divided with a stay-at-home spouse?

Many Texas couples start out their married lives with both spouses pursuing a career but find that it makes sense for one of them to stay home when they have children. It can be difficult to go from the comforts of the so-called double-income-no-kids lifestyle to having just one paycheck for a growing family, but when that one paycheck is big enough, having one spouse stay at home is sometimes the best choice for the marriage.

However, all types of marriages face challenges, and marriages with one stay-at-home parent sometimes end in divorce. When this happens, the stay-at-home parent can be left at a distinct disadvantage. While one spouse has been building a lucrative career, the other gave up a career in order to stay home with the children. While staying at home with the children can feel like a full-time job, most employers don’t see it that way. The stay-at-home spouse may be able to return to the workplace but may have to start over a career from a lower-level position, with a lower salary.

This is the type of situation that alimony was made to address. Also known as spousal support, alimony is intended to make sure one spouse isn’t left at an unfair financial advantage at the end of a marriage. Texas courts take into consideration the financial sacrifices stay-at-home spouses have made for the good of the marriage and may include these as factors when deciding upon property division or alimony.

In a high net worth divorce, these calculations can be especially complex. Each spouse must list all assets and divide the marital property according to Texas law. With some types of assets, such as stock options or business assets, setting a value for these items is extremely important. A stock option, for example, may not seem to be worth much at the time of the divorce but can be worth a great deal later on. It could be grossly unfair for one spouse to have sacrificed to let the other pursue a career that included stock options only to be cut out of the payoff once that stock option is mature.

During a divorce, many Texas residents may feel that they are being written off by a spouse who is wealthier and better positioned to thrive after the marriage. Texas family law attorneys can help make sure their clients get a divorce settlement that reflects the sacrifices they made for the marriage, and not just their salary or their bank accounts.

Source: Forbes, “Deciding To Become A Stay-At-Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale,” Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014

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