Enhanced Earning Capacity: Reap the Rewards of Your Spouse’s Education

Your commitment to your marriage included your investment in your family’s financial future. In order to increase the financial success of your family unit, you may have sacrificed your own education or career advancement. You now have the right to receive a return on your investment when your partnership dissolves in divorce. The anticipated enhanced earning capacity of your spouse is considered marital property — meaning you own an interest. Yet, unlike dividing money and tangible personal property, you cannot physically divide a college degree, a specialized skill or a professional license. For this reason, the valuation process involves calculations based on a series of complex factors.

Why enhanced earning capacity is considered marital property

Your earning capacity may have been diminished because you forwent educational or career advancement opportunities to support your spouse. In addition, your absence from the job force to raise children can drastically affect your ability to earn the income you would otherwise have been capable of making. Even if you developed a successful career, the decision to promote your spouse’s advancement — through relocation or unbalanced division of childrearing duties, for example — likely hindered your ability to reach your full earning potential.

Calculating the value of a degree, professional license or career advancement

Enhanced earning capacity encompasses a variety of factors that increase potential income — including a college degree, advanced degrees, specialized training, professional license, job promotions and actions that contribute to career advancement. To accurately calculate how much your spouse’s enhanced earning capacity is worth, consider:

  • Type and level of degrees your spouse earned
  • Professional licenses your spouse holds
  • Specialized training your spouse received
  • Statistical income made in the particular field
  • Income disparity based on gender in a given profession
  • Effect of geographic location on incomes
  • Risks to job security
  • Your spouse’s work life expectancy
  • Your income earning capacity

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