Nowadays, more people are marrying later in order to prosper in their careers, as many Californians know. In addition, some spouses continue their careers until they agree together to start a family. One spouse will then put his or her career on hold.
In recent years, stay-at-home spouses are often thought of as people who sacrificed their professional careers to stay at home to take care of the children and the household. Unfortunately, becoming a stay-at-home spouse often means financial consequences later if the couple divorces. For a spouse who has not been earning income and has been dependent on the other spouse's employment for financial support and such benefits as health insurance, the end of the marriage can leave him or her high and dry.
In this kind of situation, a spouse can ask the court to award spousal support; this typically requires the wage-earning spouse to financially support the other for a specific amount of time. The amount of alimony is determined by guidelines set by the state. In most cases, the award is not for an indefinite period and usually requires some effort on the spouse being supported to learn to re-enter the workforce after retraining or education.
Fortunately, a stay-at-home spouse may be able to overcome the most negative aspects of divorce through a postnuptial agreement. A postnup can ensure that a spouse will be financially secure if he or she leaves the workforce to stay at home. Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnup can protect assets and determine the alimony amount.
For some potential spouses, a prenuptial agreement may be the best idea because it can establish and identify the financial responsibilities of each spouse at the start of and during the marriage and beyond.
Source: Forbes, "Deciding to Become a Stay-at-Home Mom? Consider this Cautionary Tale," Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014