Your career ended a year after you got married. That was the year your first child was born. You and your spouse both took time off, and it slowly dawned on you that one of you should just do this full time. Why leave the child with a sitter all the time when you could be there yourself?
Since your spouse earned more money than you did, you volunteered to be the stay-at-home parent. You loved it. When another child came into the family two years later, you really settled into this new role. For 10 years, you spent time with your kids. When they went to school, you took care of the house, the lawn, and all of the cooking and cleaning. You decided never to get a traditional job again.
Now your spouse has asked for a divorce, and it’s all changing. Are you going to need a job again? Will you get custody of the children? How can you support the same lifestyle on your own?
These are all huge questions to ask. Here are five tips that can help you as a stay-at-home parent:
1. Find out if you have a right to alimony
Alimony, also called spousal support, is sometimes provided when one spouse supported the other during marriage. Based on factors like the length of the marriage and how hard it will be for the non-working spouse to get a job again, the court may order support payments.
2. Understand how the division of assets sets up your future
Even without alimony, you may take a significant portion of your marital assets with you, and the amount can impact your future. Say you need $75,000 per year to make your budget work, for example. If you and your spouse have $300,000 in savings and you get $150,000, you have a two-year buffer zone to look for a job.
3. Get all financial records from the marriage
Tax returns. Bank statements. Investment information. Pay stubs. These are just a few examples of the types of paperwork to gather. The more you know about the family’s financial picture, the easier it is to make sure you get a fair split.
4. Create a new budget
Throw out your married budget and create one for your single life. You’ll have plenty of new expenses, from rent to utilities to car payments. Understand exactly what you need going forward. Many people underestimate the cost.
5. Plan for the future
Start the process with a plan. Do you and your spouse want to share custody? Where do you want to live? What do the children want and need? Moving forward with a solid plan helps you make choices and decisions to turn that plan into reality.
Divorce for a stay-at-home parent isn’t easy, but you can make it easier on yourself when you fully understand your legal rights and all of your options.