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Woman On Top: How to Protect Yourself in a Divorce If You Are The Breadwinning Wife


By: Janice Dantes


Maintenance, a.k.a. alimony or spousal support, is gender neutral. Historically, men were generally the party ordered to pay maintenance to their ex-wives because there was a time when women were not allowed to hold jobs, apply for credit cards, or even have money and property under their own names.

Today, more and more women are earning more than their husbands. This is particularly common among my Filipina nurse clients.

If you are worried that you will be cut in half in a divorce, we have strategies to protect your assets and hard-earned retirement accounts from your deadbeat, freeloading spouse. Below are some things to consider if you are the breadwinning wife:

1. Don’t Put Off Necessary Purchases. The worst thing you can be if you are getting divorced is being rich. In a divorce, both assets AND debts will be divided. Therefore, this is the time to stop hoarding money and to start making necessary purchases that will improve your quality of life that you have been delaying. For example, if you need a new computer that you have been putting off, go ahead and make that purchase. Be careful about purchasing large assets like real estate and vehicles with high value.

2. Debt is your friend. When you are getting divorced, debt is not necessarily always bad. Debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the debt, are presumed to be marital and subject to division. Everyone wants to divide assets but no one wants to divide debt. If you are the breadwinning spouse and have acquired significant debts, these debts can be used to offset any awards to the lesser-earning spouse.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Litigate. If you feel strongly that your husband did not contribute his fair share to the accumulation of wealth in your estate, you do not have to accept a 50/50 division of your assets. There are many arguments that can be made as to why he should get less than 50/50 or none at all. For example, if your husband was unfaithful and spending marital funds on a mistress, we can file a claim for dissipation and he could be ordered to return funds used on what is considered a non-marital purpose. Further, if your husband has a gambling or drug problem for which he used marital funds, you can claim that he was depleting rather than contributing to the marital estate. While litigation can be expensive, it would allow you to have the opportunity for your day in court to argue for a different outcome for your divorce.

If you would like to discuss your options in a divorce as the breadwinning spouse, please call (312) 546-5077 or email janice@

Thank you for reading. Until we meet again, love one another.

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