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Earnings difference increases divorce risk

Over the past several decades, women in North Carolina and around the country have made great strides within the workforce. As a result, it is generally excepted that women will contribute to the household income after marriage. However, recent studies have shown that as income is valued within a marriage, if the wife's salary exceeds that of her husband, their relationship may suffer. In fact, statistics show a 33% increase in divorce among such couples.

On one hand, this statistic seems peculiar. There is strong evidence indicating that money problems can contribute to a decline in marital satisfaction. Thus, it might seem that a wife who is capable of earning a significant amount of money would be contributing to the overall stability of a marriage.

It appears, however, that gender stereotypes and attitudes about them are not likely to go away anytime soon. Some men may feel that they are somehow failures or inadequate because they are not out-earning their wives. Similarly, a wife may unconsciously think less of her husband because he can't match her earning power.

Many of these issues can be addressed through frank conversation, a review of household finances in consultation with a financial advisor and counseling. However, some marriages may not be able to recover from years of conflict and hard feelings.

Individuals who are considering divorce might benefit from speaking with an family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to review the client's situation and make recommendations regarding issues such as property division, child custody and ongoing support payments. In marriages where one spouse significantly out-earns the other, financial negotiations can be challenging.

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