Washington couples may be more likely to stay together if their earnings are roughly equal. If a woman earns more money than her husband, the marriage may be particularly vulnerable. Various studies have looked at different attitudes about money and how it affects the stability of marriage and found that the answers are complex.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 40% of wives are bigger earners than their husbands. However, there still seems to be an expectation that men are supposed to be the breadwinners, and marriages in which women earn more are 33% more likely to end in divorce. A Pew Research study found that 25 percent of Americans feel that providing an income for children is extremely important for the mother compared to 40% who believe this of the father.
One study found that married men earn more than single men, single women, or married women. While the gender gap accounts for some of this disparity, there are other reasons as well. Single men are more likely to be younger and thus may earn less money than their older counterparts. However, some female breadwinners report their husbands are refusing to work. Some men may be hesitant to marry women who earn significantly less without a prenuptial agreement.
This last point may be particularly important in a state like Washington, which is a community property state. In a divorce, marital property is supposed to be split equally regardless of who earned it. In other words, if one spouse did not work outside the home at all, that spouse might still be entitled to half of the assets acquired during the marriage. People who are in this type of a situation might want to meet with a family law attorney in order to learn more about their options.