Women’s Rights in a Modern Divorce

Gender roles, prejudices, and injustice related to them are losing their strength in present-day society. Such changes are extremely important and noticeable in different spheres of life, including marriage, child-rearing, and divorce. Still, some women starting marriage dissolution or being respondents in such cases may wonder, “What are my divorce rights as a wife”? The legal divorce procedure involves dealing with multiple documents and going through processes that can be confusing. With this in mind, we decided to describe women’s divorce rights in detail so that every woman can feel more secure along the way.

However, this article isn’t legal advice on what wives should do when their marriage is about to end. It is an unbiased lowdown on general divorce rights for a wife across the country. Besides, we will show how the issue of gender inequity in divorce has improved with time, explain how you can protect your assets, and try to answer the question, “What is a wife entitled to in divorce?” in simple words. Moreover, we will debunk the entrenched misconception that divorce always favors the woman.

If you would like to learn more on any of the mentioned topics, keep reading the article.

Understanding of Wife’s Rights in a Divorce

Divorce is a life-shattering experience for many women. They often feel at a loss when marriage dissolution is unavoidable. In addition to emotional discomfort, they may be worried about more practical sides of the process, such as property and debt division, child custody and support, and alimony. Fortunately, the US legal system clearly defines fundamental women’s rights in divorce. So, if you ask, “What are my rights as a wife in a divorce related to property, children, and other aspects?”, we offer some answers:

  • How Much Spousal Support Will a Wife Get?

If a man is the main breadwinner in a family, his soon-to-be ex-wife risks losing financial support after divorce. To prevent such negative consequences, the court introduced the concept of alimony, also known as spousal support. The main idea of this financial aid is to ensure the same standard of living for a woman after marriage termination.

By issuing alimony, the court supports one of the basic housewife divorce rights. In most cases, spousal support is awarded for a specific period, but there may be exceptions because every situation is unique. The amount of alimony the ex-wife can get will depend on many case-specific factors, such as marriage duration, financial and non-financial contributions to a marriage, ability to work, level of income, and many more.

  • Will a Wife Get Child Custody?

If spouses have kids, it is necessary to determine child custody, which is normally of 2 types: legal and physical. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions in a kid’s life. Physical custody pertains to where children will live, who will take care of them on a permanent basis, and how much time the second parent will spend with them.

There is a growing tendency in the United States to favor joint custody so that both parents can take an equal part in their children’s upbringing. However, the court may grant sole custody to either parent if that’s in the best interest of the kid. In general, some states have set guidelines on determining child custody. Nevertheless, the specifics of a case, e.g., if a kid suffered from domestic abuse, may play a more crucial role.

  • Will a Wife Stay in the Family Home?

How much is a wife entitled to in a divorce, considering marital property and assets? In fact, women have the right to an equal or equitable share of marital property, depending on the state laws. The mechanisms of determining the exact amount of the assets every party gets may vary from state to state. Usually, the court considers factors such as marriage duration, each spouse’s earning capacity, and financial contribution.

In cases when a woman is recognized as the primary caregiver, the court may let the mother and kids live in their family home. Such a decision may be made to ease the post-divorce adaptation period for children who are believed to feel more comfortable in a customary environment.

The question, “What does the wife get in a divorce”? is currently easier to answer due to a set of regulations and laws available in the United States. Although terminology and guidelines on calculating child support or alimony may vary in different states, the general tendency of promoting equal rights for men and women in a divorce process is bolstering.

Remember that understanding the details of divorce laws can be very difficult, especially for a person without any legal background. Moreover, if spouses cannot reach an agreement on all major points and need legal help, they should contact a family attorney. A lawyer will take care of the legal part of a divorce process, ensuring that spouses’ demands are properly defined and their rights are fully protected.

Women’s Property Rights in a Divorce

Divorce for women has undergone certain transformations since the early 20th century. The changes are noticeable in solving different divorce-related issues, including property division.

For instance, a century ago, husbands got almost everything during a divorce property division because they were the primary breadwinners in most cases, and all the assets acquired during marriage were considered their belongings.

The situation changed immensely in the late 1970s when the feminist movement in the country was evolving at a rapid pace. The fight for women’s rights, particularly financial independence, led to reforms in property division during marriage dissolution. Besides, at that period, many US states started to differentiate marital and separate property, thus promoting the concept of equitable distribution.

The classification of property as marital and separate is valid in modern American society. Typically, separate property consists of assets owned by each spouse before the marriage and their personal gifts and inheritances from third parties. Conversely, marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Depending on the state laws, it can be divided in 2 possible ways:

  • Most states stick to the equitable distribution It presupposes that marital property is divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. The court will consider various factors, such as the marriage duration, each spouse’s financial contributions, and the needs of each party. The equitable approach provides more flexibility when dividing property.
  • On the other hand, there are still community property states like Arizona, Texas, or California, in which it doesn’t matter who earned or acquired particular property during the marriage. Everything will likely be divided 50/50. However, if you google “Does a wife have rights to husband’s property in community property states?”, you’ll see that assets protected by a prenuptial agreement, inherited by one spouse, and acquired after the legal separation are not subject to equal distribution.

Here are some recommendations on how to make your negotiations on property division efficient:

Learn Your State Laws

The core aspects of a property division process are identical in different parts of the country. Yet, there may be some fluctuations across the states or even counties. That’s why you should learn the divorce laws in your state.

Document Your Financial Contribution

Recollect your financial contributions during your marital life. You need to focus on income, assets, and any significant financial investments you and your partner made. Of course, it is impossible to remember everything unless you start to write things down from the beginning of your marriage. So, concentrate on big contributions.

It may seem unnecessary at first, but if any serious disputes about property division arise, you will be ready for negotiations or trial. For example, if you wonder, “Can a wife claim husband’s property during a divorce?”, you should know that she can if she or her family contributed to the property or if the husband stopped paying alimony. Hence, if you can provide written proof, you can expect a fair court decision.

Consider Entering into a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

If you and your spouse have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the terms of property division in the event of a divorce should cause no disagreements. While there’s nothing romantic about such arrangements, and they may often cause discontent and offences, they work perfectly to protect each spouse’s interests regarding property division and other divorce matters.

Talk with Your Partner Openly

Honest and transparent communication about property division is advantageous for both parties. Spouses can verbalize their concerns, priorities, and expectations and, eventually, reach a fair and equitable settlement. By discussing your assets in a friendly manner, you can learn what possessions are most important for each of you and avoid potentially lengthy and expensive court battles. Besides, this approach is particularly beneficial for people who have children. When parties are on amicable terms at every stage of a divorce process, managing co-parenting responsibilities will be easier once a divorce is finalized.

Consult with Legal Professionals

Find an attorney who specializes in divorce proceedings and is well-versed in the property division regulations in your jurisdiction. They can give you personalized advice, answer different questions like “Can husband claim wife’s property during divorce?” based on the specifics of your case, recommend the best methods to divide property, characterize the implications of various settlement options, etc.

Take Care of Your Personal Assets

If you know that a divorce is an approaching reality, not a hypothesis, you should protect your separate possessions. For instance, you can open a separate bank account and manage your personal finances individually. Besides, you can maintain records of gifts and inherited items you received in the course of your marriage so that they won’t be classified as marital property.

Prioritize Self-Care

Though this recommendation isn’t directly related to property division during divorce, it is very important. Marriage dissolution can be emotionally challenging, so it is paramount to find reliable ways to take care of your mental well-being. You can seek support from friends, relatives, or a therapist. When you can control your emotions, it is easier to make informed decisions, communicate your desires, and protect your rights.

A Wife’s Entitlements for Alimony

Alimony is also called spousal support or maintenance. It is a financial arrangement that may be ordered by a court during a divorce to provide financial support from one spouse to another. Alimony is usually issued in case of financial disparities between spouses. For instance, if a woman has a significantly lower income than her partner or didn’t work because she took care of their children, she can apply for alimony for a wife.

Various types of alimony are viable in the United States. Here’s a list of the most frequent options:

  • Rehabilitative alimony is granted by a court to a spouse with a lower income to undergo training or education to acquire skills and credentials for employment and decent income. Such financial support is usually short-term and ends right after a wife becomes self-supporting to meet her own financial needs.
  • Reimbursement alimony is like financial compensation paid to one party for their contributions during the marriage. Sometimes, one spouse pays for the other’s school or training. In other cases, one of them stays home to take care of the family and house instead of working, enabling the other to build a career. Reimbursement alimony is a way to make things fair by paying for the help the other spouse provided.
  • Women can also ask for temporary alimony if they struggle to cover the costs associated with a divorce process. In other words, they will receive financial support until the marriage is officially terminated. Good divorce advice for women who need long-term alimony is to ask the court to grant another type of spousal support once temporary alimony is over.
  • Permanent alimony means that one spouse will get life-long support from the other. What qualifies a spouse for alimony of this type is the fact that they can’t work or provide for themselves due to age or disability. Besides, if there are minor children to take care of, and it becomes challenging for that parent to work and meet living expenses, the court may also approve permanent spousal support. However, despite the name, this alimony doesn’t always last forever. It ends under certain conditions, for example, if the supported spouse remarries or either of them passes away.
  • The court can also oblige one party to pay lump sum alimony. It means that the other party will receive support in a single payment once. Sometimes, spouses decide to replace fixed monthly payments with a one-off large payment.

Now you know what alimony types you can ask for during divorce proceedings. But you may still wonder, “How much alimony will I get?”. There are no universal guidelines the judge will stick to when calculating the sum. However, there are particular factors described in the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act that matter:

  • The age, physical well-being, emotional state, and financial circumstances of the former spouses;
  • The time necessary for a recipient to get an education or undergo training to find a well-paid job;
  • The lifestyle and living standards the couple had when living together;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The ability of the paying spouse to support the recipient without neglecting their personal needs.

Some people mistakenly think that alimony is granted to punish one spouse because of their wrongdoing or the desire to terminate a marriage. However, it doesn’t work this way in the legal realm. The major purpose of alimony is to ensure that both spouses have almost identical living standards after divorce. So, if you ask, “If wife filed for divorce, can she get alimony?”, the answer is, “Yes, she definitely can”.

Another question is, “How does a wife get alimony”? The first step is to consult with a family law attorney. An expert will analyze your case and the likelihood of receiving alimony based on the specific circumstances of the marriage and the applicable state laws. The factors considered by the court listed above may differ between jurisdictions. Usually, the judge pays attention to the length of the marriage, the financial needs of the party with a lower income, and the ability of the other spouse to pay.

Next, you may participate in the negotiations with or without attorneys. Being cooperative, you’ll be able to reach a mutual agreement on alimony terms, including the amount and duration. You may also go for alternative dispute resolution methods. For instance, you can contact a mediator who will facilitate your discussion.

If you can’t reach an agreement yourself, the judge will have to make a decision. They will consider various factors before determining spousal support.

As you can see, many details should be noted when filing for divorce or responding to a petition. All your allegations must be well-thought-out because they have long-lasting consequences. Though you can still ask for child custody or alimony modifications after your marriage has been dissolved, it is easier, quicker, and cheaper to settle all issues during the process.