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North Carolina Divorce Attorneys report: Salary differences lead to role changes, infidelity risks

/// 08/30/2010

It is not uncommon for a woman to out-earn her male counterpart. Nor is it uncommon for spouses to commit acts of infidelity. As both scenarios are commonly discussed, analyzed and predicted, a new study has found a correlation between the two. According to a study done by a Cornell University graduate student, men who earn less than their female partners are more likely to cheat. Furthermore, women with higher salaries than their male partners or spouses are more likely to stray.


The family law attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt previously discussed the shifts in marriage trends and pointed out the prevalence of women out-earning men in marriage. According to a report from the Pew Research Center titled “Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage,” cited in an prior article by Gailor, Wallis & Hunt titled, Marital Model Reflective of Economics, the number of women who earn more than their male counterpart is growing.


The rise in women’s earnings corresponds with their rise in educational level. Women currently comprise the majority of college graduates. According to the Pew report, 28 percent of wives had higher educational levels than their husbands in 2007.


This rise in education and resulting income for women is accompanied by a less-than-positive side effect, though, according to a recently released study. According to Cornell University graduate student and study author, Christin Munsch, men who earn less than their female counterparts are more likely to cheat. Similarly, women who are primary breadwinners are more likely to cheat on their partner.


The divorce attorneys of Gailor, Wallis and Hunt present the findings of the new study, “The Effect of Unemployment and Relative Income Disparity on Infidelity for Men and Women,” which was first reported by HealthDay News, and later picked up by Bloomberg, Businessweek and Newsweek. According to the article, findings “suggest that disparities in moneymaking play a significant role in infidelity.”


In the HealthDay article, Munsch explains the inspiration for the study arose after talking to a male friend who cheated on his partner. The friend explained that his girlfriend made the majority of the money in the relationship, held more friendships and that he moved to the area to be with her. He explained he felt powerless in the relationship. Munsch explained that previous research into infidelity never examined differences in income between the parties.


The study consisted of a national survey that tracked 9,000 people from 1997 to 2007. Munsch focused on the survey results from 2001 to 2007, when the participants were between the ages of 17 and 27. She found that money issues, such as the woman making more or less than her male partner, played a role in infidelity risks. Munsch speculated the inclination for a man to cheat on a woman who earns more than he does to be the product of “gender identity threat.” The study also reported that infidelity rose on both sides if one partner earned a substantially higher salary.


As the study author points out, the probability of a spouse cheating on account of salary differences is not 100 percent. It is simply a factor in the long list of contributors to infidelity.


If infidelity has reared its ugly head in your marriage, and separation or divorce seems imminent, it is important to seek counsel from an attorney experienced in divorce and family law. Infidelity can have legal ramifications depending on the state in which the parties live or the divorce action may be filed. In North Carolina, infidelity by the dependent spouse can bar the entitlement to alimony while infidelity by the supporting spouse can require the cheating spouse to pay alimony if the other spouse is financially dependent. In addition, in North Carolina, infidelity can be the basis of a claim for alienation of affections and criminal conversation against the third party with whom the cheating spouse was involved.


Each attorney in the firm of Gailor, Wallis & Hunt possesses a particular proficiency in a specific area of family law, enhancing the firm’s ability to respond to and settle or litigate any issue, no matter how complex,  including all aspects of separation and divorce, custody, support and tort claims such as alienation of affections and criminal conversation. The lawyers at Gailor, Wallis and Hunt are ready and able to help you through the divorce process whether by achieving a successful settlement for you or , if necessary, by litigating in the courts.


To contact them, call them at 866-362-7586, or visit their website at


Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC

Divorce is Tough – So Are We




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