What are the Rights of an Unemployed Wife in a Divorce?

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Even if you were unemployed for the duration of the marriage, you still have rights to marital property. Though the divorce laws vary by state, unemployed wives still have rights during a divorce.

Marital Property Laws

Some states are community property states, which means all property acquired during the marriage is marital property and equally owned by both spouses. Some states have equitable division of property, meaning all marital property is divided equitably (this doesn't necessarily mean evenly).

Length of Relationship.

The longer you've been married or cohabitating, the more contributions you've made to the marital household. Even if you were unemployed and stayed home, if you cooked dinner, took care of children or supported the career of another, you still made contributions to the marriage that are worth money.

Future Earnings

Some states have laws wherein if a spouse supports another financially or otherwise while he attains a professional degree, such as law, medicine or accounting, that ex-spouse could have a claim to future earnings of that spouse. This prevents a spouse from accepting support from a spouse while attending school, then leaving her with nothing once he has attained his degree.

Alimony or Spousal Support.

If you were a stay-at-home wife or mother for the duration of your marriage and have been out of the workforce for years or have no marketable skills, you may be able to receive alimony or spousal support. Beware that this support may end if you get remarried, and the support also can have a time limit.

Child support.

If you get custody of any minor children, you could also receive child-support payments. These payments are for the care of any children of the marriage. The payments provide for food, shelter, clothing and medical care of any minor children, usually until the age of 18, although the age limit can be extended.


About the Author

Jackie Lynn is an attorney by trade with a Juris Doctor and bachelor's degrees in law and business respectively. She specializes in bankruptcy and immigration law and is also is an avid fitness enthusiast and animal lover. She has been writing on her own hobby website since 2007.