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Why Divorce Rate is Higher for Female Breadwinners

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The number of women earning more than their husbands, while still relatively small, is growing. It is no surprise, as more women are attending and graduating college and entering the workforce right away. Fox Business claims these recent changes are also because women are more aware of their worth and are more eager to fight for higher wages. While this is excellent news for women, it may not be so good for their marriages. Many women claim that they have experienced negative responses in their marriages when they out-earned their partner, which in some cases, has caused marital problems that have led to a divorce.

Traditionally, men are the family’s breadwinners and the primary provider. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women are the primary breadwinners in 38% of marriages. Still, this sentiment is quickly changing, with women now outearning their husbands in larger cities. A study by Pew Research Center claims that the Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York metropolitan areas are among the places where women are outearning men. In both the New York and Washington metro areas, women earn up to 102% of what men earn when examining median annual earnings, although this means that times are changing. More women are excelling in the workforce, and opinions on the changing dynamics vary, with some couples claiming this type of scenario makes them uncomfortable.

Research by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business found that a married woman earning more increased the probability of unhappiness in her marriage. The study found that a woman making even $5,000 more a year than her husband was at greater risk of divorce. Data from a U.S. National Survey of Families and Households found that those who reported being happy with their marriage declined when a woman earns more than her husband, with the likelihood of divorce increasing by 50%. According to Forbes, this can significantly impact those in high-net-worth marriages since earning a higher income or owning more significant personal assets than your husband makes for special considerations regarding divorce.

Despite more women outearning their male partners, societal and cultural norms are placing stress on their marriages. Marriage therapists claim marriages can deteriorate when women earn more than men if men feel insecure or women lose respect for them. A New York Times article examining the new census found that women who earned more than their husbands reported a lower income than what their husbands made. This discrepancy may show that there are still expectations in place that the man should be earning more than the woman as the primary provider for the family.

Luckily, recent reports suggest that the link between female breadwinners and divorce is weakening. A USA Today article reported that there have already been generational shifts, with millennial women almost twice as likely as women in the baby boomer generation to earn the same as their partners. When asked for their opinion on their partner potentially outearning them, millennial men appeared to remain neutral.

Getting divorced is a highly personal, emotionally charged, and complex experience. Knowing what to expect can help ease the stress and create a sense of security when you may be uncertain about your future. At Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C. in San Francisco, our divorce lawyers offer the skill and knowledge to handle even the most complex and contentious divorces, with the object of securing fair resolutions. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation if you’re seeking legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney.

By Debra Schoenberg

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