With the cost of childcare and the increasing demands of modern parenthood, many households opt to have one spouse leave the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent. Engineering the ins and outs of a busy household is a full-time job. Stay-at-home parents are valuable family contributors, even if they are not bringing home a physical paycheck. But when a marriage ends in divorce, stay-at-home parents can deal with some unique financial difficulties. If you are a stay-at-home parent going through a divorce, here are some things you should keep in mind.
1. NJ is an equitable distribution state.
When you get divorced in NJ, you must provide detailed information about your financial situation. The divorce court will want to know the salaries of each spouse, what kind of property you own together or separately, savings, physical assets like cars, inheritance, debts, and expenses. A family court judge will use this information to determine spousal and child support as well as the "fair" division of assets between the two parties.
2. Alimony probably won't be enough to support you.
In years past, divorcing stay-at-home moms could expect to live off of alimony payments. Because many women did not work outside of the home and lacked the experience and training to do so, these women could make the legal argument that a divorce would leave them destitute. With financial compensation from their former spouse, they were able to maintain their lifestyle and continue being a stay at home mom. Today, the majority of women work outside the home, and two-income households are much more prevalent. This new reality has led to the scaling back of alimony payments. There is no longer a valid legal argument that a former stay-at-home parent could not find income of their own post-divorce.
There are several different kinds of alimony. What alimony you receive will depend on how many years you were married, how much money your partner makes, and the circumstances surrounding your decision to be a stay-at-home parent. A judge will use their discretion to determine what is "fair." Regardless of the final judgment, you will likely need to find employment.
3. Establish your financial game plan NOW.
Whether or not you are the one initiating the divorce, you will need to act fast to establish a financial plan of action. Start saving for legal fees immediately. Get your documents in order: tax returns, bank statements, loan statements, etc. Anything that your lawyer can use to create a financial snapshot of your household. Set a realistic budget that will consider the loss of your spouse's salary. Determine if you can stay in your family home or prepare for a move. Housing costs will likely take up the vast majority of your budget, so that should be the first expense you figure out - as quickly as possible.
It can be overwhelming and stressful to determine how to set up a whole new life for yourself, especially with drastically different financial circumstances. At Veitengruber Law, we've been helping individuals and families regain control of their finances for over a decade. We can provide legal advice to ensure your rights are respected and help you develop a plan to ensure you're moving forward in the right direction.