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Stay-at-home parents and property division, part 1: beyond Mr. Mom

The division of labor that a couple chooses when raising children is a highly personal decision.

The rigid gender roles that prevailed until not so long ago have changed substantially, both in Florida and across the country. A generation ago, the Michael Keeton movie “Mr. Mom” was fodder for light comedy. Today, however, there are enough stay-at-home dads that it cannot simply be assumed that a stay-at-home parent will be female.

When one member of a married couple stays home to raise the kids, however, it is important to consider whether a postnuptial agreement is in order. As we will discuss in this two-part post, foregoing opportunities for paid work in order to focus on the home front can have significant implications for property division in the event of divorce.

To be sure, even without a postnup, the work of running a household should ideally be acknowledged in a property settlement if a marriage dissolves.

But when there is a postnuptial agreement in place, the clarity that such an agreement provides can make it easier to ensure that the stay-at-home spouse is treated fairly.

Postnuptial agreements are probably not as widely known as prenuptial agreements. But just like prenups, which many couples negotiate before marriage, a postnup can enable a couple to identify potentially troublesome money issues and decide how to address them in a rational and proactive way.

If you are interested in a prenup, it’s important to do the math. How much is the stay-at-home spouse actually sacrificing, in terms of projected income, by giving up paid employment for awhile? And how much benefit is the family getting from the childcare and other duties that she (or he) provides?

Source: CNBC, “Why stay-at-home moms need a ‘postnup’,” Jeff Landers, Dec. 21, 2013