This article highlights many things women in the industry have struggled with and how they can improve their financial situation with a few impactful steps.
For women, there's no right or wrong decision as to whether you should take a career break to focus on parenthood. But whatever you decide, that choice can have long-term ramifications for your finances. Let’s face it, our child rearing years are also our peak earning years, when our careers have momentum. Plus, leaving a job often means walking away from health insurance and retirement savings opportunities (like employers’ 401K matching). Not to mention, the break itself may impact your professional networks, certifications, access and more.
The good news is: There are ways to address these financial issues with your partner in a constructive way, and even some ways to legally protect your finances if you decide to stay home with your kids. (Remember, money is the number two reason for divorce in the U.S., second only to infidelity.)
Here's how to start the conversation:
- Protecting financial interests: Working out a post-nup can ensure the wife’s future financial security as she leaves her career and it is an excellent opportunity to talk seriously and candidly about the financial implications of that decision. The agreement can help protect a woman's financial interests by outlining alimony amounts and how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce.
- Goals and priorities: Discuss your individual and shared goals and priorities for the future, and how your decision to leave your job will impact these goals.
- Recognition of sacrifices: Discuss the salary you are giving up and the actual dollar value of the childcare you are providing that benefits his career as well because you are taking on primary responsibilities. A postnuptial agreement can recognize sacrifices made by a woman who left her career to raise children in marriage and ensure that she is adequately compensated for those sacrifices in the event of a divorce.
- Career plans: Consider discussing your plans for returning to work in the future, and the support you will need in pursuing your career goals.
Now that you are on the same page, protect yourself legally. If you are married consult with a qualified attorney create a post-nup that is legally enforceable and addresses the topics that are important to both you and your husband. Remember, although we all know that being a stay-at-home-mom is a full-time job, the courts do not. If you are not married yet, consider a prenup and potentially include verbiage that mentions potentially updating the agreement upon you starting a family. Ultimately, whether you should ask for a postnuptial agreement when you leave your career to raise children in marriage is a personal decision that should be made after careful consideration of the potential benefits and drawbacks.
For more information on women's financial health and post-nup strategies to plan for the future, watch this video by Maili Bergman:
By Maili Bergman, RFC®
Financial Life Advisor
California Retirement Advisors
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