There are other reasons to stay connected to the working world, besides planning for a possible divorce. Leaving work contributes to the persistent wage gap between men and women, which has been stalled for some time; female workers in 2010 made just 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. And stopping work reduces not only your current earnings, but also your overall long-term retirement and Social Security earnings.
The institute’s research over 15 years shows that the longer women stay out of the work force, the more their income drops when they return to work. For instance, if you take a year off, your income when you go back to work drops 20 percent from when you left; if you’re out two or more years, the drop is 30 percent. (The institute doesn’t have data on how long it takes such women to catch back up.)
“I think in general that women should maintain as close a relationship to the labor market as possible,” said Heidi Hartmann, president of the institute.