Unemployed husband and divorce

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” Even if there is money coming into the house, the occupants of the household still could be spending more than what is being taken in. This type of spending only can last for so long, before you run out of money entirely.”

For people going through a divorce, their job can be a source of comfort. The routine of a work day can provide the sense of normalcy that they need in their lives, especially during a time of great upheaval. In addition, the income of employment allows for moments of financial stability during a time of financial division and uncertainty.

However, this sense of stability only applies if you have a job.

For those that are unemployed, much of the fuel behind any sort of marital issues or even, the actions of pursuing a divorce, stem from one’s employment status. Unemployment causes complications in the familial dynamic, forcing the family to rely on one source of income, if that.

Strain on marriages

In the current economic climate, it makes sense that unemployment would provide a constant strain on marriages and eventually lead to divorce, if they can afford it. Many people in the United States simply cannot afford to get a divorce, because they don’t have a job. According to the National Public Radio-Kaiser Family Foundation survey, more than a fifth of all Americans who have been out of work for a year or more say that their relationships with intimate partners have changed for the worse.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where those out of work, go through marital problems that lead to a divorce, but cannot afford a divorce because they do not have the funds to pay for all of the fees involved in the process.

Harvard University did a study, published in the American Sociological Review, of 6,300 heterosexual couples and found that men who were not working full time were 33 percent more likely to divorce in the following 12 months than husbands who did have full time jobs.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Additional studies from Ohio State University, that examined marital satisfaction and employment status found that when men are not employed, it heightens the possibility of either the man or woman leaving the marriage. They no longer feel tethered to the commitment, because they no longer feel that one of the spouses is not pulling their own weight.

Unemployment can create a division that magnifies all of the other negative opinions of the marriage that the employed spouse has. It can make the situation worse, causing animosity to grow between the two. In this environment of negative emotions, men can often feel as though they are not living up to the expectations set by society. These expectations can often be a source of social anxiety, putting them at risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

Pulling your own weight

Many spouses, regardless of gender, do not wish to take care of someone that cannot take care of themselves. It’s a matter of pride for some, and they do not want anyone to weigh them down by causing financial problems, breeding a storm of negativity, and not moving their life forward.

There’s so much pressure in today’s society to progress. We, as a society, find ourselves constantly challenging ourselves to be better than we were before, and when someone is in an unhappy marriage to an unemployed individual, it can feel like there is a cinder block tied to your feet, and you’re sinking deeper and deeper underwater.

This is primarily due to the logistics of spending more money in a household than what is being made. Even if there is money coming into the house, the occupants of the household still could be spending more than what is being taken in. This type of spending only can last for so long, before you run out of money entirely. For the employed spouse, that type of pressure could simply be too much to handle.

Household maintenance

In addition to money, maintaining a household can put stress on any couple, especially if one is employed and the other is not. Many couples feel that if only one spouse is working, then the other one should be in charge of household chores, and if that expectation is not met with the unemployed household, it not only puts a strain onto marital expectations, but it can affect your chances of getting a divorce, depending on when you got married.

According to Good Housekeeping magazine, couples who married before 1975 experienced more marital issues related to housework and wives not doing enough, but for couples who got married after 1975, there was more tension when the husband was unemployed.

This is primarily due to the fact that before 1975, less women were working full-time, which meant husbands expected their wives to play a bigger part in household chores, according to the Monthly Review Foundation. However, since more women joined the workforce around 1975, the dynamics shifted.

Identity crisis

This has created an identity crisis with men and women who cohabitate. With individuals who share income, regardless of their marital status, employment used to be used to identify “the breadwinner” of the household. The societal perception is that to be men. However, if the breadwinner becomes unemployed for whatever reason, they can find themselves at risk for several different types of health risks.

In addition to the health risks, they could find themselves resentful toward their spouse, who may find themselves with a job, in an attempt to support the both of them. Due to the societal and historical perceptions of gender roles within the confines of a marriage, they may find themselves unwilling to accept the reality of their situation, creating additional tension within the relationship. This simply adds fuel to the divorce fire.

In ending a marriage, two individuals find themselves inadvertently in the pursuit of financial independence, which can spell trouble for the unemployed ex-spouse. Nevertheless, the amount of damage that can be done on a marital relationship, due to the stress of unemployment, makes the divorce experience a necessary step in getting two individual lives back on track.

Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with Joe Cordell.

Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.

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Dear Starshine,

My husband just lost his job for the fourth time, hasn’t earned a paycheck in three months, and doesn’t see any urgency to get employment; he’s just waiting to find a job he wants. Am I wrong to want to dissolve my marriage? I always end up taking the brunt of the financial hardship — using up my paychecks and dipping into my 401(k) to make ends meet. He’s unable to collect unemployment because he was fired, but continues to spend money as if we still have two incomes. The last three times, I tried to work with him to deal with the financial obstacles, but the results are always the same and I become more resentful each time. He only seems to be upset at the fact that I have no physical attraction toward him (he’s always asking if I would care if he cheated). I do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry because we have two children, ages 14 and 11, who need tending to. I’m probably an idiot for putting up with this for so long; I’ve been doing it for the kids. But I’m at my wit’s end. As the saying goes, I can do bad all by myself.

So I was willing to cut this guy a smidgeon of slack. After all, the economy’s lousy, marriage is a give-and-take thing, and I feel for a guy who can neither provide for his family nor start his wife’s engine. Ouch.

But am I to understand that this dude is depleting your savings while awaiting his dream job and leaving all the housework for you? And then wondering why you don’t come purring into his lap each night?!

Honey, as the new saying goes, he can do bad on a friend’s couch.

Your husband should stop threatening to cheat — he’s already cheating. Taking hoggish advantage of a hard-working wife is relationship fraud, and it’s happened too many times to excuse it as the one-off tantrum of a wounded male ego.

More importantly, though, I don’t like the example either one of you is setting for your kids. Right now you’re teaching them that a partnership should feel like a vacation to one partner and a trap to the other — and that household chores are a woman’s job even when her jobs also include paying the rent, buying the groceries, and not getting fired.

First order of business: Start requiring your kids to help with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry. They need to learn what their father never did: how to contribute to a fully functioning family. Besides, you’ll need their help more than ever if you kick Jobless Joe to the curb (come on, as an able-bodied adult, the guy’s got to be good for something: Lifting heavy things? Killing spiders? Signing for UPS packages?).

Only you know if there’s something worth salvaging with your spouse — something past the money, beyond the sex, on the other side of the resentment. In all honesty, divorce probably won’t help your finances. But it’ll really cut back on your laundry.

Send me your dilemmas via email: [email protected] And follow me on Twitter: @ToughLoveAdvice.

Men Without Full-Time Jobs Are 33% More Likely to Divorce

What causes marriages to crumble? Each couple is a little different of course, but are there specific work and financial pressures that seem to have a bigger effect on the soundness of any given union than another?

A spate of new research says there might be. It’s employment, specifically male employment.

One new study of 6,300 heterosexual couples found that all other factors being equal, men who were not working full time were 33% more likely to divorce in the following 12 months than husbands who did have full time jobs. “Contemporary husbands face higher risk of divorce when they do not fulfill the stereotypical breadwinner role, by being employed full-time,” said the author of the study, Alexandra Killewald, a sociology professor at Harvard University.

This is change in the last 40 years. For couples who were married before 1975, a husband who was not employed full time was less likely to divorce.

For years sociologists have argued over why couples split up and what policies should be put in place to try to coax couples into getting married or keeping them married. (This is not just meddling; an intact family is widely considered to be a sound unit on which to build a society, so governments have an incentive to try and keep them together.)

Financial pressures are often cited as one of the chief marital wrecking balls. Those with money can afford to outsource many of the more unpleasant chores of home life and have more time for bonding leisure activities and vacations. Those who have fewer resources, meanwhile, have more difficult lives and also have to deal with the stress that money worries put on a relationship.

But Killewald’s study, which will be out in the August issue of the American Sociological Review, disputes that suggestion: “My results suggest that, in general, financial factors do not determine whether couples stay together or separate,” she says.

Another theory for the uptick in divorce is that women have a lot more financial independence, with degrees and careers and wealth of their own, and thus do not feel dependent on their spouse or their marriage for financial stability. Two thirds of divorces are initiated by women, even though their chances of remarrying are slimmer than their ex-spouses’.

Nope, says Killewald. She compared marriages pre- and post-1975 and calculated, surprisingly, that women who divorced in the ’70s did not lose that much more income than women who divorced more recently. (She did this by comparing the income of similar women who were married and divorced, which is an imperfect measure, but probably as good as it gets.)

What made the difference was the role each spouse played in the marriage. Pre-1975 wives who did only did 50% the housework were more likely to get divorced than those who did 75%, but now, there’s no difference.

The effect of men’s unemployment was more stark. These days guys who have jobs have a predicted divorce probability in the next year of 2.5%, whereas the same guys who do not have a probability of 3.3%. That’s a third higher. This a big change from pre-1975, when the predicted divorce rate was slightly lower (1%) if they weren’t fully employed than if they were (1.1%).

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Why are jobs so important to staying married for guys? Is it that women get mad at their spouses for not working and still not pitching in at home? Or is it that guys draw more of their identity from the work they do and they take out their frustrations in an inappropriate manner?

“It could be her, it could be him, it could be that unemployment is associated with other stuff like depression, it could be judgment from friends or family or lack of support for the marriage,” says Killewald. “These data just don’t tell me that.”

One thing is clear. It’s not because under-employed guys make less money; the figures didn’t change no matter how much they made. “When I show that husbands’ lack of full-time employment is associated with risk of divorce, that’s adjusted for income,” says Killewald. “It’s not how high earning he is.”

Killewald’s study buttresses recent work done by Johns Hopkins sociologist Andrew Cherlin, who found that pre-marital births were highest in the regions of the country in which income inequality was highest, which in turn were the areas with the most unemployment among high school graduates.

Cherlin has argued that couples will not marry—and signal that their union is official and permanent—until they believe they are on a stable financial footing or can see a path to a stable financial future. But they will not delay childbirth either. So without jobs or the prospect of jobs, couples end up not married and with kids. Again, marriage is linked to jobs. “I see those findings about the importance of men’s employment for getting married and staying married as absolutely part of the same cultural phenomenon,” says Killewald.

Another recent paper looked at whether government programs dissuade parents from getting married. Some couples lose benefits once their incomes are combined, so they opt to stay single. The paper from the American Enterprise Institute concluded that these programs do not seem to make a difference in the poorest families’ marital status, only among lower middle earners.

So what’s the fix, besides more jobs? One solution is to encourage a wider view of what a husband’s role in a family is. “We talk a lot about the changes in women’s experience, says Killewald, “but we haven’t done a lot of thinking about what it would be like for men to have a similar expansion in the ways they do masculinity.”

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Dear Carolyn

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

DEAR CAROLYN: My husband hasn’t worked for more than 10 years. He left his last job without informing me to be an entrepreneur. That never panned out and he hasn’t attempted to return to the workforce.

I, however, finished a degree, have maintained upward mobility, and now have full- and part-time jobs, both of which I enjoy. We are barely breaking even.

We have four children. He drives them to school, picks them up at various times/places, after sports, etc. He keeps the house relatively clean. He has dinner at least partially started most days (I enjoy cooking). He is wonderful with the kids, homework is done before I get home, he still makes me laugh. I still sometimes get a stomach flutter upon seeing him.

The problem is I never agreed to be the only financial provider. While I’m grateful for all the things he does that aren’t money-related — grass-cutting, car maintenance, toilet-fixing, bug-catching, chauffeuring — we could be doing so much better on two incomes.

I’ve tried broaching the subject of his returning to work and the response has changed over the years: no one to pick up kids, etc. He’s never angry, just seemingly wishing I’d get on board with his not being a financial provider. And my level of resentment is at an all-time high.

– Unequal Marriage

DEAR UNEQUAL MARRIAGE: It is really hard when people change the terms of an emotional partnership unilaterally.

But “things he does that aren’t money related” actually are. Anything you’d hire out if he were employed outside the home counts as money saved. Landscaping, home maintenance, plus the child care (huge expense) and driving and homework-wrangling and cleaning add up to significant cash.

Not that it changes your position dramatically, but his contribution deserves to be counted. It’s not a big fat 0.

And let’s consider an element you didn’t: Your kids’ happiness. Is your husband’s role in their lives good for them, on balance?

These are prompts, not certainties — but please use them as entry points into new ways of thinking about your household. Not because your husband’s contribution is better than full-time employment (every family is different), or that his methods were defensible (you deserved some say), but because your insistence on wanting something you don’t have is making you miserable.

Families can withstand tight budgets but they don’t survive resentment — not as their normal.

You have two choices. You can ditch your “tried broaching the subject” tactic and communicate better with your husband: “Maybe this is right for our family, but it really bothers me that I was never part of the decision-making process.” Don’t rule out marriage counseling. (I know, $ — but divorce is $$$$$$$.)

Or, you can challenge your own thinking. You enjoy your jobs, he enjoys his. You do yours free of carpools, homework, housekeeping. Do you hold stay-at-home moms in the same dim regard as you hold your husband?

Again — maybe your marriage is “unequal,” or maybe a closer look will reveal its essential fairness. Regardless, your resentment can’t be allowed to stand, and it stems directly from your choice to maintain your expectation that he work for pay. Instead of waiting for him to meet it, consider expecting — and tweaking as needed — exactly what you have.

When You Are Going Through Divorce With an Unemployed Husband

Nowadays, mothers and fathers sometimes work, or one parent stays at home. Many years ago, it was rare to see stay-at-home fathers; however, as times change, this becomes a reality. Legally, unemployed husbands are entitled to the same considerations that an unemployed wife would be in the same situation. However, when it comes down to going in front of a judge, the courts may not see it the same way if they are biased.

Can my Husband Receive Alimony?

Though you don’t see these cases as often, yes, your husband could qualify for alimony through the divorce. Perhaps during your marriage you decided that you should be the one who works because you went to college and didn’t want to let your degree go to waste, while your husband stayed at home and raised the children. The courts will look at the age of the children now, or whether or not they are disabled, and determine whether it’s appropriate for him to stay at home or return to work after all this time. If you are the breadwinner, you may have to pay alimony to him while you are going through divorce. This gives your husband time to receive proper training or enter back into the workforce.

California, a Community Property State

California is a community property state so these regulations will be considered when you and your husband must split property. In California, this means that both spouses own everything in equal measure as long as it was acquired during the marriage. If your husband chose to stay at home and you earned all the income, he should still be entitled to half of your marital property. However, if he is disabled and this is why he cannot work, they may give him a little more property. It really depends on how the courts want to handle these matters.

Every family’s situations are different. Because of this, you may need help when you are going through a divorce and have questions. We are here for you every step of the way, so give us a call to get started.

If your spouse is currently unemployed, and you have decided that divorce is right for you, it is important to know what to expect from this process. Until you get a New York divorce lawyer, there is no way to predict exactly what will happen with your specific case, but having an idea of the average outcome should help you prepare.

Child Support and Your Unemployed Spouse

If you want child custody of your minor kids, you will usually get some form of child support, even when your spouse does not have a job. It may be the minimum amount since child support totals are often calculated based on the noncustodial parent’s income and bills. However, judges realize that the custodial parent is taking on the financial responsibility of raising the kids mostly alone, which is why they will order the other parent to pay something. They may even base the amount on what your spouse could be making if he or she got a job, which depends on his or her education and experience. Once he or she gets a job, the amount of child support owed will likely be increased.

If your spouse ends up getting custody of the children, though, you will likely pay more than the minimum in child support if you are employed. Of course, it all depends on several factors, which is why you need a lawyer to advise you when trying to determine what you will pay.

Alimony and Unemployment

Alimony is also based on many factors, with one of them being the length of the marriage; spousal support is likely to be ordered after a long marriage has ended, and may be avoided in a short marriage. However, it also depends on the income you and your spouse make.

If your spouse stayed home with the kids and raised them while you worked, and this is why he or she is still unemployed, you will likely have to pay alimony. This is especially the case if he or she has little education or experience due to having to raise children and take care of the house instead of going to college or getting a job. Additionally, if your spouse has simply chosen not to work, you may still have to pay alimony. The outcome typically depends on your exact circumstances, and the quality of your divorce lawyer, which is why hiring an experienced attorney is so important.

Come to Us with Your Questions

If you are concerned about how the courts will treat your divorce case when your spouse is unemployed, let us know. You can fill out an online case evaluation form to get some fast answers from our team. We have handled plenty of cases in our more than 40 years of experience, so we likely have the answers you need. When you talk to us, we can help you decide whether to file now or wait until your spouse is employed, depending on how we feel you will be affected by his or her current unemployment.