Is a party entitled to some sort of financial recognition for putting their career or education on hold for the other spouse?

What happens if someone puts his or her own education or career on hold in order to put a spouse through law school or med school for instance? Is the party entitled to some sort of financial recognition for his or her sacrifice if the marriage ends in divorce?

By Sean Sullivan
April 25, 2016

Yes the person absolutely is. The spouse who supported the spouse who pursued the professional degree would then be entitled to ask for maintenance. And if I was the lawyer representing the party and handling the case, I would obviously argue for maintenance. Presumably the spouse who has earned the professional degree has a higher income level actually, or at least has the potential to earn a higher income. What the judge will then do is then take into consideration the sacrifices that the one spouse made so that the one can obtain a higher degree. Then the judge would use that to take all factors into consideration when he's deciding how to handle the marital assets, determine the maintenance and what is appropriate.

Sean Sullivan is a family lawyer practicing in the Elmhurst, Illinois area at the law offices of Laura M Urbik Kern, specializing in child custody and dissolution in divorce. Visit his website,, and Divorce Magazine profile.

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April 25, 2016

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