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High-earning women have special divorce considerations

A lot of the conversation around women and divorce revolves around helping women get back on their feet financially. This presumes, of course, that the woman relied on her husband for financial support.

But what about when it is the woman who earns more? Data shows that 38 percent of women earn more than their husbands do.

How does this affect a divorce?

When high-earning women get divorced, many of the stereotypical gender tropes are turned on their head. While the law itself is gender-neutral, popular culture has labeled some divorce issues as "traditionally male," while others are deemed "traditionally female."

In actuality, these roles are based not on gender, but rather on traditional roles of breadwinning and childrearing.

Divorcing women should be prepared to talk to their lawyers early on in the process about the following issues:

  • Spousal support: If you earned significantly more than your husband, he may ask you to pay alimony while he gets the job experience or training he needs to support himself. This is especially true if he passed up work opportunities to allow you to focus on your career.
  • Retirement accounts: Dividing retirement accounts is an important and complicated part of divorce. If you were the primary earner, you were likely also the primary retirement-saver. Your husband may try to fight for a share of the retirement savings in divorce.
  • Child custody: Did your husband take on the role of primary caregiver so you could focus on work? Even if he didn't, will he argue that your job is too demanding for you to focus enough attention on the kids?
  • Prenuptial agreements: Not every prenup stands the test of time. Don't assume that just because you have one means that your divorce will be cut-and-dry. If the prenups is favorable to you, your husband's legal team will likely be looking for ways to get it invalidated.

As with all divorce-related issues, your chances of success are much higher if you talk openly and honestly with your attorney from day one. Be clear about your goals, and candid about anything your husband might try to use against you.

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