Wife collects support for helping husband launch career

A woman who worked full-time while her husband was in dental school is entitled to “compensatory” support for her role in launching his $350,000-a-year dental career, the Oregon Supreme Court recently ruled. Once her husband had established his practice, the wife focused on homemaking and childcare responsibilities, though she also worked part-time in the dental office for several years.

The court said the wife’s contribution to her husband’s education, training and vocational skills was a significant factor behind his earning capacity. Accordingly, she was awarded $2,000 a month for 10 years, in addition to $3,000 a month in “transitional” spousal support and $4,000 a month in maintenance.

In a similar case, the Utah Supreme Court recently held that a wife who worked to put her husband through medical school could sue him for “breach of contract” when he later asked for a divorce. The wife – who said she gave up a lucrative job offer in another state to help her husband – claimed that the couple had a binding contract under which the husband had agreed to support her at a certain level with his income as a doctor.

The husband argued that the wife was entitled to alimony and nothing more. But the court decided that she could sue for breach of contract as well. It said that the amount of alimony she was entitled to might not be enough to support her at the level that the husband had arguably promised her.