Some women in Texas who get a divorce may be among the more than 25% of mothers who do not work outside the home. Among mothers with at least a master’s degree, 10% stay at home. This choice is approved of widely with over 50% Americans saying they think the mother is a better caregiver for a newborn than the father. Despite this, not everyone agrees that the mother deserves an equal share of the marital assets in a divorce.

In a study designed by two Vanderbilt University professors, 3,000 participants read a scenario that involved a husband and wife who were getting a divorce after 17 years. The husband initiated the divorce. The wife had worked outside the home, but five years into the marriage, she had quit her job and had stayed home with the children ever since. After this, the details changed for different participants. Some got a scenario in which the mother had more education. The professions they had and property they owned also changed.

Women tended to award the mother more than men overall. Men tended to award more to the mother in the scenarios in which she had more education. Overall, more men valued the contribution of the breadwinner, and more women valued the contribution of the stay-at-home parent.

Parents may be able to reach a solution for property division, child custody and spousal support if they negotiate an agreement instead of going into litigation. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative divorce, avoid the adversarial atmosphere of a courtroom and may be cheaper and less stressful. The idea behind them is to reach a solution that both parties are happy with. However, in some cases, one spouse will not cooperate, and litigation might be unavoidable.