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Tips for women with higher incomes than their spouses

Although it is still not commonplace, the number of women who earn more than their significant others has been on the rise. In such situations, when the couple decides to divorce, there are certain factors the higher-earning wife ought to consider.

Recently, USA Today reported on the financial situations in households in which both spouses work across the country. These days, the survey revealed that the wife earns more than the husband in 16 percent of households with two incomes. The research reviewed data from households during the period from 2006 to 2011.

When either spouse out-earns the other, it is wise to ensure there is a clear prenuptial agreement in place. If the couple did not create a prenuptial agreement before the marriage, in some cases postnuptial agreements may be appropriate.

Women who have higher incomes than their spouses may be wise to keep a portion of their money separate from their spouse. For instance, while the couple may have a joint checking and savings account, keeping a separate checking account can provide a feeling of financial security.

In addition, when a woman inherits money, it is prudent to keep the inheritance separate from the marital assets. In such cases, the money from the inheritance should not be used to pay off joint assets, such as the couple's home mortgage. In addition, the soon-to-be ex-spouse's name should not be placed on the account established for the inheritance.

As the financial decisions involved in a divorce can be complex, seeking the advice of a skilled family law attorney is one way to ensure the spouse's rights are protected.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: When You Earn More Than Your Husband," Jeff Landers, April 10, 2013.

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