In some marriages, one spouse is the main source of income and the other is the homemaker. When these couples file for divorce or are in the separation process, money becomes a big issue.
North Carolina law takes the contributions of a spouse as a homemaker into consideration. Among other factors, judges will consider contributions by one spouse to the education or training of the other spouse that may have led to increased earning potential. The judge will evaluate the same factors to determine the relative earning capacity of each spouse. If a spouse has cared for the children over the years while the other was earning an advanced degree, the court must consider that when awarding alimony. Put simply, your contribution enabled your spouse to go to school in order to increase earning potential and your labor should not be ignored by the court.
However, it is still a difficult task to assign value to unpaid work. This can involve looking at the fair market value to calculate what the work (cooking, cleaning, etc.) was worth if outsourced. But because marriage is so unique, this type of calculation is inadequate.
A judge might instead create hypotheticals to look at what the stay-at-home spouse would be doing otherwise if they weren’t acting in the role of homemaker. This approach works only if there is evidence to show the lost wages.
If you are a stay-at-home spouse and concerned about how this may affect your case, give our family law attorneys a call today.