Individual Entitlement to the Financial Benefits of a Professional Degree: An Empirical Study of the Attitudes and Expectations of Married Professional Students and their Spouses

Part I of this Note describes the case law that delineated the factors examined in the study. Those factors are the financial support provided by the supporting spouse, the extent of personal sacrifice made by the supporting spouse, the length of the marriage and corresponding accumulated assets of the marriage at the time of the divorce, and the relative earning capacities of the two parties after the divorce. Part II discusses the design of the study, and specifically how we manipulated these factors in hypothetical vignettes to measure reactions to the factors. Part III presents the results and our conclusions about the participants’ attitudes. Finally, Part IV concludes that our participants felt that the presence of these factors in marriages similar to ones in our vignettes should lead to compensation for the supporting spouses. From that conclusion, we argue that courts should consider these factors in framing divorce awards that compensate supporting spouses.