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Divorce and division of property for stay-at-home parents

Texas is a community property state, and this means that in a divorce, each spouse is entitled to 50 percent of all marital assets. However, most states have a policy of equitable division of property. This means that property will be divided fairly, but it does not necessarily specify what is considered fair. One study found that when it comes to valuing the contributions of mothers who stay at home versus fathers who are breadwinners, men and women differ in their conclusions.

The study provided participants with six different scenarios that had the same basic premise of a family with a stay-at-home mother for 12 of the 17 years of marriage. The father filed for divorce. The variations came in the occupations of the two, their education and how much property they owned. Men tended to award more to the mother if she had a higher level of educational achievement. Women generally did not consider these factors and gave mothers a larger share in property division overall. They placed a higher value on caregiving while men valued the father's breadwinning more.

Pew Research reports that more Americans think that mothers are better caregivers for newborns than believe either parent would be equally good. Overall, 25 percent of all mothers and 10 percent who have at least a master's degree stay home with their children.

In Texas, there might be more opportunity for a stay-at-home parent to get a larger share of the marital assets. Equal division does not mean every asset must be split in half, and some couples might agree to take certain assets in exchange for others. However, lower-earning or stay-at-home spouses should make sure they account for expenses associated with an asset. For example, it may be better to sell a home than keep it since neither may be able to afford it on a single income.

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