When you marry someone, you join your financial situation with theirs. While you can’t control every financial decision your spouse makes, you still share in the responsibility. Similarly, your spouse will share in any assets you acquire unless you agree to terms in a prenuptial agreement that protects your individual incomes.
For the average couple, a prenuptial agreement likely isn’t a factor in their California divorce. Instead, there may be other financial issues, such as a significant discrepancy between the income earned by each spouse. The spouse who was the primary wage-earner may loathe the idea of sharing their assets with the spouse who stayed home. The spouse who served as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent may worry about their ability to support themselves after a divorce.
Understanding California law about spousal support and asset division can help both parties in a family with unequal earning potential understand how the courts will likely address the situation.
Who earned what isn’t going to matter much for asset division
The family courts in California do the best job they can to produce fair and reasonable outcomes for divorces involving asset division and child custody disputes. When it comes to asset division, barring significant financial misfeasance, such as intentional dissipation or hiding assets, the courts will do their best to split assets in a manner that is reasonable and fair to both parties.
They will look at the earning potential of both spouses, as well as their contribution to the household. The contribution that a spouse makes does not need to be financial. Instead, the courts will consider the value of household services as well, such as cleaning, cooking and child care.
All of that unpaid labor has a direct financial impact on the household by saving a significant amount of expense that the family would incur if they outsourced those services. In other words, just because someone didn’t make money during the marriage doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to the physical and financial assets accumulated during the marriage.
If a homemaker doesn’t have job skills, that could result in spousal support
Spousal support, also called alimony, is it legal system by which a wage-earning spouse who doesn’t have good earning potential may survive in the wake of a divorce. The courts can order maintenance amounts of support that the wage-earning spouse will pay.
Spousal support may last indefinitely if a couple has been married for a long time. For shorter marriages, the courts may order spousal support for a specific number of months or years with the intention of helping the recipient develop work skills and a professional network that can help them seek gainful employment.
High asset marriages often lead to contentious divorce battles about assets. If you or your spouse stayed home to raise the children or care for the property, the chances are good that the courts will consider spousal support. However, as every case is unique, it will benefit both spouses in this scenario to speak with the California attorney who can advise them about their rights and options.