Jonathan Marks, STL Moms: Marital Status Income Gap

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Margie:  Unmarried men, but after divorce their income drops by nearly half. Attorney Jonathan Marks with the Marks Law Firm is here this morning with more on why that might be and how to plan both during and after divorce. Good morning.

JM:  Good morning Margie.

Margie:  Ya, so so why are we seeing this once a, a woman gets divorced, their income goes down so much.

JM:  Well, I think what they’re saying statistically is it really has to go back to gender roles. Um when someone is married and presumably everybody is working together as a team, those gender roles typically fall upon a woman for child rearing or even caring for aging parents. And as a result of it they can lean more upon their spouse for purposes of being able to handle those financial roles or even stay within the workforce and put in more hours from their job. Once the divorce occurs and somebody has to assume that role as a single parent and so they’re unable to stay at work later or put more hours in or more days in and they have to be home for purposes of child caring or for caring for an, an adult, there’s just no way for them to able to make up for that loss of income because they don’t have anybody at home to make up for the loss of caring for those individuals.

Margie:  Ya and it can be expensive obviously sending them to daycare and it may be cost effective to stay at home.

JM:  Ya absolutely. And so that’s always one of those balances that you have to look at from a financial standpoint and is the money that you’d be earning when you’re out into the workforce balanced off for purposes of what you had to expend for childcare. And that’s very difficult and one of those things that’s very important when you’re going through a divorce to take a look at, not just if you’re the individual looking for support in the form of child support or spousal support but even if you’re the payor for that purpose. You know, is your family better off even if you’re going to be in two households that you’re just paying the additional sum in spousal support as opposed to having your kids in daycare for what would maybe be very incremental increase in income.

Margie:  Sure. Ya. How can women be uh more proactive in this sense? You know, maybe being more aware of their finances while they’re married?

JM:  Ya, I, I think that you know, a lot it is like sticker shock. You don’t really know what’s in front of you until you have to go out and take a look at it. And in this situation, you know, traditionally, everybody is so used to their status quo and maybe you’re not the one that has an idea of what things are costing on a day-to-day basis or month-to-month basis within your household. And you may not be familiar with what your assets are, you really have to do an inventory of your situation. And maybe at the beginning of a year or when you think there could be something that could be in the future for a divorce, you really sit down and take a look at what are the expenses of the household. How much income are the two of you bringing in? What is the net dollars coming in? And what is it that’s going out each month that’s going to have to continue should you end up in a two household situation? What are the actual assets that the two of you have and how are those going to be divided? And at the end of it, you know if you do have to return back into the workforce, what’re you going to be looking at from a retirement situation? How long do you perceive that you’re now going to have to be in the workforce to make up for the loss of what you thought maybe would be two IRAs or two 401ks and a pension.

Margie:  Ya, I know the house is, is generally the biggest asset and maybe looking at that and saying if I had to stay here, continue to pay that mortgage or downsize?

JM:  Ya and that’s the hardest decision that people, you know that with the status quo situation, everybody’s looking at I, we need to stay in that home because it’s best for what’s for the children, but that’s not really always correct. Staying within the same school district? That absolutely makes sense but there’s always other options that are available to you for the purpose of being able to stay within that district and really understanding what your financial situation is would make sense. And not always basing it, today, on what your child support or spousal support may be, but looking two, three years down the road because that’s not a guarantee that it would go one forever and figuring out what you’re going to be able to afford if that isn’t there is the best situation for you as a single individual.

Margie:  Ya, absolutely. Alright, Jonathan Marks thank you so much for your time this morning.

JM:  Thank you Margie.

Margie:  We appreciate it. For more information on The Marks Law Firm, just head to the STL Moms tab.

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