Heymann & Fletcher

Should stay-at-home parents get an equal share from the divorce?

Few people would dispute the fact that raising children is an important and valuable undertaking. However, since being a homemaker generally does not generate any income, many people in New Jersey and elsewhere differ on how parenting should be valued during a divorce. There are those who argue that stay-at-home parents are entitled to a fair share of marital assets, despite the fact that they did not directly financially contribute to the relationship. Other people aren't quite so sure. One study appears to reveal that gender is a big contributor to people's opinions on this subject.

The study, conducted by two law professors, looked at the opinions of over 3,000 people to find out what they thought about parents who choose to raise their children as an occupation, which is still mostly the domain of women. Though attitudes are changing, a majority of Americans still believe that mothers are better at raising children than fathers. It can be difficult to financially value the contribution of women who handle most of the child-rearing, especially when a couple makes the decision to divorce.

The study subjects were given a made-up scenario of a couple with children who decided to divorce, where the mother was the main child caregiver. Details about the couple's education levels, jobs and property were varied among the study participants. Though women were more likely than men to give the fictional mother a greater portion of the marital assets, no matter the scenario details, when the fictional mother had higher education levels, men awarded the mother a bigger share. Experts say that this shows how women may be affected by choosing to forgo their careers in favor of their families. They're often not given half of marital assets, leading some to wonder how much child-rearing is really valued.

No matter what choices a couple makes regarding parenting while married, it is important that children are cared for and that parents are each able to provide a stable, loving home after a divorce. New Jersey parents who are unsure of how their contributions will be valued during divorce proceedings may wish to consult an attorney. An experienced family law attorney can serve as a valuable guide in what can be a difficult time.

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