Becoming a stay-at-home parent is a big decision, not only because it means giving up income, but also because it means giving up actively building experience in the work world. Leaving the workforce may be a good decision for children and for a family, but it can have unintended consequences for the spouses who choose to do so if the marriage comes to an end.
A spouse who has been out of the workplace for a significant amount of time and who has low earning capacity typically receives compensation in property division for the contributions they have made to the family, but this doesn’t change their ability to obtain gainful employment once the divorce is finalized. In addition, property division doesn’t always adequately address the financial concerns of parents who have chosen to stay at home.
To address this issue, engaged couples who know one of them will be choosing to stay at home as a parent can make provision for this decision in a prenuptial agreement so that the parent who takes this role will not be unduly disadvantaged in the event of divorce. Not all couples have the foresight to know that one of them will choose to become a stay-at-home parent.
Married people who choose to stay at home but who are worried about the potential consequences in the event of divorce can still set up a postnuptial agreement that addresses their concerns. The goal of such an agreement should be to ensure the party exiting the workplace has financial security if the marriage ends.
To be valid, such agreements must meet several requirements. Most importantly, they must not be executed by fraud or under coercion and they must involve full disclosure. It is important for both parties to a postnuptial agreement to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that their interests are represented.