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Trad Wives and Legal Concerns: When Traditional Gender Roles Leave Women destitute

In a recent episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, host and attorney Billie Tarascio delved into the complex and often overlooked legal concerns surrounding the “trad wife” lifestyle. The term “trad wife” refers to women who embrace traditional gender roles, often influenced by religious or cultural norms, where the primary responsibilities are homemaking and child-rearing while the husband is the breadwinner. This episode featured an illuminating conversation with Jennie Gage, a former Mormon “trad wife” who found herself divorced and financially destitute after her marriage ended abruptly.

Jennie’s story is both a cautionary tale and an inspiring journey of resilience. Raised in a strict Mormon household, Jennie was encouraged to abandon her career aspirations in favor of being a wife and mother, as dictated by her faith. She described how, at just 22 years old, she was persuaded by her religious leaders to leave her business ventures to fulfill her “divine purpose” of nurturing children and supporting her husband.

The Road To Homelessness

For 24 years, Jennie dedicated herself to her family, only to find herself abandoned and without financial support when her marriage ended. Despite having contributed significantly to the family business, Jennie was not prepared for the harsh realities of divorce. Her ex-husband liquidated their joint assets, leaving her with no financial means to support herself or her children. This led to homelessness and a struggle to find employment, as her homemaking skills did not translate easily into the workforce.

Billie Tarascio highlighted several legal issues that “trad wives” like Jennie may face during a divorce. One major concern is the lack of financial independence. Women who dedicate their lives to homemaking and child-rearing without maintaining a career or personal savings are at a significant disadvantage if their marriage ends. This financial dependency can leave them vulnerable to poverty and instability, as evidenced by Jennie’s experience.

What Are The Best Legal Protections?

To address these issues, Billie emphasized the importance of legal protections such as post-nuptial agreements. A post-nuptial agreement can help ensure that a spouse who sacrifices career opportunities for the family is compensated fairly in the event of a divorce. Such agreements can designate certain assets or savings as the sole and separate property of the non-earning spouse, providing a safety net.

Another critical piece of advice from Billie was the importance of maintaining relevant skills and side hustles. Even if a woman chooses to stay home, having a part-time job or small business can help keep her skills up to date and provide a source of personal income. This not only helps in building a sense of independence but also ensures there is something to fall back on if the marriage dissolves.

Jennie’s story underscores the need for women to plan for financial security, regardless of their marital status. She now works as a domestic violence advocate and collaborates with a law firm to support victims of child sex abuse, turning her painful experiences into a mission to help others. Her advice to women is clear: always ensure you have the means to support yourself and your children, no matter what life throws your way.

The conversation also touched on the broader implications of religious and cultural expectations. Jennie pointed out that while these traditions may promise security and fulfillment, they can also trap women in precarious positions without the necessary resources to recover from a crisis like divorce. The key takeaway is the importance of balancing faith and tradition with practical, legal, and financial safeguards.

While the “trad wife” lifestyle may offer a sense of purpose and community, it is essential to recognize the potential legal and financial pitfalls. Women should take proactive steps to protect themselves, such as securing legal agreements and maintaining employable skills. By doing so, they can enjoy the benefits of their chosen lifestyle while being prepared for any eventuality.


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