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When a couple decides to marry, they frequently agree to share their lives and assets. That includes all income made during the marriage, despite who earned it. However, distributing assets and assessing spousal support may become problematic if a marriage divorces.

What non-working spouses are entitled to in a divorce may be very challenging. The answer varies greatly depending on the extent of the marriage, the contributions of the non-working spouse, and other factors. Non-working spouses are entitled to a fair portion of marital assets. They could be qualified for spousal support to assist them in maintaining their quality of living following the divorce.

Understanding the legal rights of a non-working spouse in a divorce is critical for anyone contemplating divorce. Whether you’re the main provider or the non-working spouse, engaging with a competent divorce attorney who will help you through the legal complexity and guarantee your rights remain secure throughout the process is critical.

What Are The Legal Rights Of A Non-Working Spouse?

The legal rights of a non-working spouse in the context of divorce can vary based on jurisdiction and specific circumstances, but several common considerations often apply. 

It’s important to note that laws can differ from one region to another, so it’s advisable to consult with a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction for accurate and personalized advice. Generally, some of the legal rights that non-working spouses might have during a divorce include the following:

  1. Spousal Support or Alimony: Non-working spouses may receive spousal support or alimony from the working spouse. Spousal support provides financial assistance to the non-working spouse, especially if they have become financially dependent on the working spouse during the marriage.
  2. Property Division: In many jurisdictions, marital property is divided equitably or equally between divorcing spouses. Even if a non-working spouse did not contribute financially to acquiring property during the marriage, they might still be entitled to a fair share of the marital assets.
  3. Child Support: If the non-working spouse is the primary caregiver of minor children, they may be entitled to child support from the working spouse to help cover the costs of raising the children. Child support typically aims to ensure that the needs of children are adequately met.
  4. Child Custody and Visitation: If the non-working spouse is also a parent, they have the right to seek child custody or visitation arrangements based on their children’s best interests.

It’s important to remember that divorce laws can be complex and vary widely, so the rights of a non-working spouse may be influenced by factors such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, contributions to the household, and other relevant considerations. Seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney is crucial to understanding and protecting your rights during a divorce.

What is a Non-Working Spouse Entitled to in a Divorce?

The entitlements of a non-working spouse in a divorce can vary depending on the jurisdiction’s laws and the marriage’s specific circumstances. However, some common considerations might include the following:

Community Property States

Marital property is split equally between spouses in community property states. A non-working spouse can access half of all marital assets, including retirement funds, property, and pensions. Marital debt is also evenly split between spouses. Separate property, including assets obtained prior to the marriage or by gift or inheritance, is not divided.

When the non-working spouse gets the family home, they can be obligated to pay the mortgage and other property-related expenses. Furthermore, the non-working spouse could be qualified for spousal support, often known as alimony or maintenance. Spousal support is typically provided to assist the non-working spouse in maintaining their quality of life following the divorce.

Equitable Distribution States

Equitable distribution states share marital property fairly but not evenly. The court considers the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the contributions that both spouses made throughout the marriage. A spouse who does not work might not be able to receive half of all marital assets.

However, the non-working spouse could still be eligible for spousal support, typically provided to assist the non-working spouse in maintaining their living level following the divorce. Spousal support amounts and durations may vary based on the facts of the case.

Furthermore, the non-working spouse could receive a portion of the paying spouse’s retirement or pension assets. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), known as a court order that instructs the plan administrator to distribute a portion of the retirement funds to the non-working spouse, may achieve this.

To achieve a fair settlement, the non-working spouse should consult a family law attorney and financial advisor. The attorney can assist the non-working spouse in understanding their rights and negotiating a settlement that is best for them. The financial advisor will assist the non-working spouse in understanding the tax implications of the settlement and developing a future financial plan.

Spousal Support and Alimony in Divorce

Spousal Support and Alimony

One of the major financial difficulties that arise following a divorce is spousal support or alimony. After the divorce is finalized, one spouse pays financial assistance to the other. Spousal support is intended to assist the non-working or lower-earning spouse maintain their living level throughout the marriage.

The quantity and duration of spousal support are determined by various factors, including the span of the marriage, the level of living throughout the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and the requirements of the receiving spouse. The court may sometimes mandate a lump sum payment instead of periodic payments.

A financial plan is required to assess the amount of spousal support needed and how it should be paid. A financial expert can assist the couple in developing a budget that considers the demands of both spouses and any children involved. It is also critical to evaluate the tax consequences of spousal support payments.

It is critical to make well-informed choices when considering spousal support. Both spouses should be aware of their financial condition and collaborate to create a plan beneficial to everyone involved. If the couple cannot reach an agreement upon spousal support, the judge will decide based on the evidence given.

Child Support

The non-working spouse gets the right to child support in the same way that the working spouse does. Child support is computed using several factors, including both spouses’ income, custody arrangement, and the number of children. The court will determine the sum of child support that the working spouse must pay to the non-working spouse.

The non-working spouse may use child support payments for child-related expenses like clothing, education, food, and medical care. It is critical to remember that child support is meant to help the children and not the non-working spouse. As a result, the non-working spouse has to spend child support payments prudently and in the children’s best interests.

If the non-working spouse is granted child custody, the working spouse must usually pay higher child support. If an employed spouse gets child custody, the non-working spouse usually pays less child support. When computing child support payments, the court will consider the custody arrangement.

Both spouses must be aware of their financial responsibilities regarding child support. They should collaborate to develop a budget and financial plan that includes child support payments. It may be beneficial to seek the advice of a financial expert to ensure that financial decisions are made in the best interests of everyone involved.

Debts and Assets

When distributing debts and assets in a divorce, it is critical to know what constitutes marital property as well as what is deemed separate property. Separate property includes debts and assets obtained before the marriage or via gift or inheritance, whereas marital property includes all assets and debts received during the marriage.

Asset valuation is also a significant aspect. To split the joint assets fairly, assess the value of the real estate, pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other joint assets. It may require using appraisers, financial specialists, or other professionals.

In a divorce, you should also distribute debts, including mortgages, credit card debt, and other debts. Depending on income and earning potential, one spouse may be responsible for a more significant share of the debt.

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) might be required to distribute certain assets, like pensions or retirement accounts. This order permits funds to be transferred from one spouse’s account to another without tax penalties.

Working with an expert divorce attorney and a financial adviser is critical to ensure that debts and assets are distributed fairly and following state regulations.

Las Vegas Divorce Attorney


Divorce may be stressful and emotional, mainly when distributing assets and calculating what each spouse can be entitled to. A divorce’s outcome can substantially impact non-working spouses’ job employment prospects, self-esteem, and financial decisions.

During a divorce, non-working spouses must grasp their rights and options. Non-working spouses might be eligible for alimony or spousal support for a percentage of the marital property, along with other financial assets, depending on the circumstances.

Regarding property settlement, non-working spouses should collaborate with their attorneys to secure a fair portion of marital assets, which may include real estate, retirement accounts, investments, and other valuable assets.

The ultimate goal of a divorce must be to establish an equitable and fair settlement that enables both parties to begin moving on with their lives. Non-working spouses should educate themselves on their legal rights and collaborate with their lawyers to safeguard their interests during divorce.


Here are some frequently asked questions.

Am I entitled to any assets or property if I didn't work throughout the marriage?
Yes, in most circumstances. Even if you didn’t have a job during your marriage, you contributed to your household in various ways, such as housekeeping or child care. During a divorce, the division of property and assets considers this contribution.
What if the spouse had a well-paying job, but I didn't work?
In this instance, you could be entitled to a bigger share of the assets and properties. The court will consider the length of your marriage, the norm of living throughout the marriage, and both spouses’ contributions during the marriage.
Will I be entitled to alimony if I didn't work during my marriage?
It’s possible. The court will consider the marriage length, each spouse’s earning potential, and each spouse’s contributions to the marriage. The court may grant alimony if the non-working spouse requires financial support for maintaining a similar level of living following the divorce.
What if I didn't work during my marriage since I cared for the children?
It is a regular occurrence, and the court will value the non-working spouse’s contributions to the family. If needed, the court may give a higher share of the assets, property, and alimony to guarantee that the non-working spouse and their children remain financially comfortable following the divorce.
What if the non-working spouse can work but chooses not to?
Courts may consider the non-working spouse’s potential earning capacity when determining alimony, but the decision will depend on the case’s specific circumstances.
What happens if the non-working spouse remarries?
Remarriage of a non-working spouse can impact alimony, as it may lead to the termination or modification of spousal support depending on state laws and the terms of the divorce agreement.
What is the difference between separate property and marital property for a non-working spouse?
Separate property refers to assets acquired before marriage or through inheritance/gifts, while marital property includes assets acquired during the marriage and is subject to division.

Choose an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Going through a divorce while unemployed, or if your spouse has no job or is underemployed, complicates a difficult process.

When you deal with one of Donn W. Prokopius, Chtd’s talented, experienced divorce lawyers in Las Vegas, you can be confident that your attorney understands these nuances and how to fight for your rights.

For questions and more information, please set up a consultation or appointment, or you may call our law firm at (702) 474-0500.