On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Friday, February 9, 2018.
One issue that pops up in many divorces is a difference in perception as to the value of a stay-at-home spouse or parent. Value is easier to quantify for someone who goes to a job outside the home. In such cases, courts can use information such as salary, bonuses, insurance plans, retirement plans and more to calculate what that person brought financially to the marriage.
It gets trickier when one person focuses on keeping the house and perhaps the kids in order.
Some stay-at-home spouses do not have children. They may focus their tasks on any number of matters such as keeping the house tidy and preparing delicious meals. Perhaps they do not work in a paying job so they have the time and ability to support their spouse in a demanding career that requires travel and many family appearances. Examples could be politician or CEO. In fact, being a CEO's spouse could be a job in itself even though the spouse might technically stay at home.
Stay-at-home parents tend to focus on raising children and on other key family matters. If time and energy permit, they may cook or clean and do other tasks. After a divorce, many cannot afford to stay at home full time or at all.
Valuing the jobs
Intent can matter when the parties try to agree on a stay-at-home person's value. For example, was staying at home the overwhelming idea or preference of just one partner? Which one and why? Did the stay-at-home parent gladly give up years outside of the workforce, or was it something grudgingly agreed to? What was the cost to the spouse's career prospects, past, present and future?
Then there are some financial matters that can be calculated directly. How much did the couple save in daycare, gas and commuting expenses? How much is the life insurance policy on the stay-at-home spouse?
Different people and couples have different ways of fairly calculating the worth of someone who stayed at home. Maybe what worked for a couple who divorced last year does not seem to work well in someone else's situation. That is okay. Each couple must decide what is best for their unique situation.