Why Does the Wife Get Half in a Divorce?

We hear it on a regular basis when we prepare the paperwork for a divorce: “I’ve been the one making the money our entire marriage. Why does she get half of everything?” In many cases, the male spouse feels as though he has supported his wife for the bulk of the marriage. He’s been the one heading off to work every day, bringing home the money. Why is she entitled to half of everything in the divorce? While the simple answer is, “The law entitles her to half of all marital assets,” there are a number of reasons behind this statute.

Marriage is a Partnership

A marriage contract is a binding contract in more ways than one. It’s not just a statement that husband and wife are going to live together. It’s also a statement that their assets are combined: that is, that what belongs to one belongs to the other. In many cases, this influences a number of decisions made by both spouses: what to purchase, including a home or vehicle; how to handle work obligations; how to spend and save money. During your marriage, you probably made financial decisions based on your combined income–and so did your wife. As a result, when the time comes to divorce, the two of you must divide your assets and shared debts equitably.

Unpaid Services

Many women choose, rather than going to work, to stay home and provide for their families by taking care of errands, intercepting packages, and taking care of children. Often, the services they provide would cost the family a great deal if you hired someone else to provide them. Consider:

The cost of childcare. Daycare represents a substantial expense for many families. In fact, families with more than one small child may quickly find that it costs more to keep the children in daycare than the family would make with the wife working, resulting in a decision for her to stay at home.

The cost of hiring someone to run errands. Many cities now offer services for errand-running–but if you aren’t hiring it done, chances are, someone in your family had to complete it. Running errands could represent a substantial expense for your family, had it not been handled by your wife.

The cost of house cleaning. Keeping your home clean and tidy–especially when you have children or pets at home–is an ongoing challenge, and one that many women meet daily. Hiring someone to keep the home neat and clean can increase expenses for your family substantially.

Missed Opportunities

In today’s fast-paced work environments, it’s necessary to remain competitive in order to stay at the top of your field. Many women, however, choose to sacrifice their careers in favor of home and family. Sometimes, they sacrifice those career gains outright: choosing to stay home when children are added to the family, for example. In other cases, women sacrifice promotion opportunities and the chance to increase their skills in smaller ways: they’re often the ones to take a sick day to care for ill children or to take care of responsibilities at home. They’re more likely to miss too many days at work or to turn down business trips and other opportunities, which can prevent them from rising as high in their chosen profession as they would like.

Contact Beckman, Steen & Lungstrom Today

Are you struggling to understand divorce law, including how to equitably divide your assets with your former wife–potentially including a wife who stayed home, rather than contributing to the family’s income? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you throughout the divorce process, including equitably dividing your assets.