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Michael A. Johnson
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How income disparity affects divorce risk

| Dec 11, 2019 | Divorce |

Divorce is more likely among Arizona couples in which the man earns less money than the woman. However, if they earn a roughly equal amount, they are less likely to split up. A number of studies have shown that despite a rise in the percentage of married women who earn more money than their husbands, attitudes have not changed as rapidly. There is still a great deal of pressure placed on men to be the family breadwinners.

One study found that when a husband does not work full time, the risk of divorce is 33% higher. Some women complain that when their husbands work part-time, they still accumulate debt. A study by the Pew Research Center in 2017 found that just one-quarter of Americans thought it was very important for a mother to provide financially for her children compared to 40% who thought fathers had the same responsibility.

Another part of the problem can be how the couple handles the disparity in income. For example, one man reported that when his wife earned substantially more than he did, she made all the final decisions on everything from what restaurant they ate at to where they would go on vacation. However, once he began earning more money, their relationship improved.

When there is a significant disparity in income, one spouse might be required to pay spousal support to the other if there is a divorce. Furthermore, since Arizona is a community property state, marital assets are supposed to be shared equally. This is generally considered to be all assets acquired since the marriage, including income and money contributed to retirement accounts. It might also include the amount of appreciation on a home or business brought into the relationship. Couples may negotiate how they will split this property, or they might have to go into litigation.

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