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Using prenuptial agreements to protect stay-at-home parents

Though many people in Philadelphia recognize that creating a custody arrangement between divorcing parents may be an extremely difficult part of separating, so is property division. It is how a marital estate is divided that could have a strong impact on either spouse's financial future.

It is true that Pennsylvania mandates the equitable division of marital property, but that is not as simple as dividing assets and debts in half. In some marriages, one spouse earns substantially less than his or her spouse and he or she would need more than half of the estate. In other situations, a parent is forced to put his or her career on hold because many employers are unfriendly to parents.

When that is the case, it is helpful to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. Although couples may be on great terms when they are making the decision (or the decision has been made for them) to stay at home and raise the children, when they are divorcing things may be different. The employed spouse may try to argue that the unemployed spouse should not be given a greater share of the marital estate, and a judge just might agree.

A pre- or postnuptial agreement, however, forces the judge to divide the property according to the agreement. If the spouses worked with a family law attorney to draft the agreement, it is likely the agreement would make provisions for an unemployed spouse to either receive a greater share of the marital estate in exchange for giving up or being forced out of a career, or it would create a spousal support obligation for the employed spouse. Regardless, a pre- or postnuptial agreement can protect spouses who choose to or are forced to remain at home.

Source: CNN Money, "Stay-at-home moms are on the rise," Annalyn Kurtz, April 8, 2014

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