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Significant and Surprising Financial Issues in Divorce when the wife makes more in income than the husband

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In our culture, for many reasons, it has been typical that the wife in a marriage brings in to the marital estate less money than does the husband.  In the event the wife is a "homemaker," it certainly is recognized that she brings financial value to the marriage, in calculating a division of property in a divorce property settlement.  And that fact pattern also often justifies (in Michigan using something called MarginSoft software) a calculation that takes into account the duration of the marriage and the relative educational and ability, so-called, to earn.  These calculations lead to payments by the husband to the wife, after the divorce, of spousal support, also known in the past as alimony.

What happens when the wife consistently has earned more, maybe a great deal more than the husband ever has?  What happens when the wife's job also provides health insurance for the couple and other benefits?  What happens then, in a property settlement?

There are common law doctrines in divorce law such as "status quo," in which the financial circumstances to which one is "accustomed" to matters in a settlement.  There is also issues of ability to earn, temporary or remedial alimony, to permit a spouse to go to school and get training that would lead to meaningful future ability to earn and even the score.  There is also the concept, in Michigan, of a "fair and equitable" resolution of a property division and support payments, for whatever term into the future, sometimes forever, if there is a disability and the like.

The point is that we can be surprised by change in what seems like a normal condition, of the husband having a larger income than the wife.  At the same time, it is a very true and real issue, that if the wife has been supporting the husband and paying out and paying out and paying out, for marital expenses for a long, long time, is having the wife pay the husband "spousal support" for any period of time, punishing past "good deeds"

What is equitable?  What is fair?  What is just?  What should the Judge approve?

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