Wife Bonus

First came the ‘Push Presents’ now comes the wife bonuses.  Now, you may be asking “wife bonus?” What is that? Is it real? Years ago, a story was released in The New Yorker about the so-called ‘Wives of Wall Street’ in New York. There was a trend with the modern moms of Manhattan being paid “wife bonuses.” If you didn’t get a chance to read the article, you may be wondering “what in the world is a wife bonus?” Well, we have answers. 

What is a Wife Bonus?

A wife bonus is a payment that a husband is contractually obligated to make to his wife, during their marriage to compensate for her performance as a mother and wife.  Sound condescending? Don’t worry, keep reading. These agreements are voluntary to ensure women get the financial compensation that they are entitled to. Let’s be real, is there a harder job than being a mom and a wife?

There are many women who forgo extremely lucrative careers to stay home with their children. Wouldn’t it make sense that they are rewarded when they meet or exceed these expectations? And let us remember, these are not payments to earn their keep, or to pay for necessities. These payments are what they say they are, “bonuses.” These bonuses are not your average holiday bonus. We’ are talking anywhere from five to six-figure wife bonuses. 

The Back Story of “Wife Bonuses”

This concept is not new at all, and it has been going on for years in all parts of the world. In New York, there are theories that the idea of a wife bonus originated with bankers. High-paid bankers would pay their wives a percentage of whatever their annual company bonus. The Wife would then spend the money on more luxurious items or trips that she wouldn’t typically have done otherwise. Many husbands often recognize that their wives put their husbands’ careers before their own. It was important to them that the wife stays home with the child, and they should be rewarded for it. In some instances for men, it is a ‘humble brag’ if you may call it. Ultimately, it is a luxury these days to be able to afford for your wife to stay home and raise children. 

Can Wife Bonuses Exist? What About in Florida? 

Of course, they can! However, if you were interested in receiving a “Wife Bonus” you would not go to your Family Law attorney’s office and ask for a Wife Bonus agreement.  Technically a “Wife Bonus” is a creative way to describe a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement.

Although, if you came to us, we would know exactly what you were talking about. It just depends on the firm.  And don’t worry, just because you address this “Wife Bonus” does not mean that you need to set out all provisions that are typically found in Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements.

How is a Wife Bonus Calculated? 

That will be completely up to you and your spouse. Some bonuses are strictly based on the performance of their husband’s annual bonuses. Bonuses may also be based on the performance of other household duties. Below are some of the ways that spouses come up with an amount for the bonuses.

  • Years you stay married
  • Planning family vacations
  • Bonuses based on the number of kids you have
  • Your children maintaining good grades in school
  • Managing the family bank accounts and finances
  • Managing the family’s calendar and activities
  • Running errands, cooking, and handling other household jobs

The more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Imagine if you had to hire someone to watch your children after school, cook meals for the kids or family, pick children up from school, hire an assistant to run errands and pay bills while both spouses worked.  Those services are often necessary for homes that have two working parents, and they add up.  

Are You Still Feeling Skeptical?

At first glance, this is the opposite of what many feminists and even women, stand for, but think about it. Is it? Many women give up lucrative careers to stay home with their kids every day. Not to mention, being a stay at home parent and spouse is a lot of work. Because both spouses must agree to the terms of a Wife Bonus, they can actually benefit many couples.  Often stay at home spouses can feel undervalued. Similarly, spouses working outside the home can feel unheard when it comes to their needs. Wife Bonuses can allow both spouses to address areas of insecurity and provide peace of mind by setting clear expectations.  

What Are the Drawbacks? What Are the Benefits? 

There really aren’t any drawbacks to creating a wife bonus agreement. The terms have to be mutually agreed to, so there are not any negative consequences for not agreeing to any terms. A wife bonus allows wives to spend money guilt-free based on their hard work being a great wife and mother. There are however numerous potential benefits. Not only can it add clear expectations and a sense of appreciation in a marriage, but it can also increase financial security.

From a Legal Perspective

As stated earlier, a Wife Bonus is simply a form of a Prenuptial or Postnuptial agreement. The benefit of signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is that is cost-effective and certain. Divorce is expensive, and communication, especially as it relates to financial issues is a large reason many couples divorce. Being able to set out what the provisions of your marriage are may save many arguments down the road. Although every couple enters a marriage with the intension it will last forever, that may not always be the case. It can be much more cost-effective to set out the terms of a divorce when a couple is in a good place.

The last thing to consider is that agreements are clear and certain. Courts are becoming more conservative when it comes to awarding alimony. In Florida, alimony is often not guaranteed in marriages shorter than 7 years. And to be awarded permanent alimony, couples often must be married 17 years. Even where alimony is awarded, the courts can impute income to an ‘underemployed’ spouse to lower the alimony award. And parents who choose to stay home with their children are often considered ‘underemployed.’ This can place a spouse who gave up their career to stay home with children in a difficult position financially.

However, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements give couples the option to agree to terms that the court would not order otherwise. This can help ensure financial security during, and in some cases, after a marriage. Often, just being able to have conversations about these difficult issues can improve marriages and relationships.  At the very minimum, they allow spouses to feel that they are on equal footing regardless of their income. This can make all the difference in any relationship.

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To learn more about the different types of marital agreements, reach out to our office today, and speak with one of our experienced Family Law attorneys.