Stay at home parents can face unique disadvantages in divorce, despite the fact that, according to U.S. Census data, there are tens of millions of stay at home parents taking care of children across the country. Stay at home parents often run into trouble following a divorce because they chose to give up careers to take care of their families. However, this can leave them without options to support themselves after the divorce.
In the past, this was less of an issue because permanent alimony was more common, but recent changes to the law have made temporary alimony a more likely outcome. Such alimony is designed to allow the stay at home spouse time to get back on their feet and reenter the workforce.
Difficulties Faced by Stay at Home Parents
Stay at home parents who have been provided only temporary alimony by the court often face challenges for which they need to be prepared. First, many stay at home parents attempt to reenter the workforce too quickly because they know that they are working under the deadline of their alimony ending. While this impulse is understandable, and in some cases necessary, many parents can afford to take longer than they do to attempt to reestablish old professional contacts or to develop new marketable skills. Second, stay at home parents, especially those who reenter the workforce too quickly, can often find themselves without benefits, like health insurance, for which they had been relying on their spouse.
How They Can Protect Themselves
Unfortunately, the best ways for people to protect themselves from these issues are to take precautions before the divorce happens. For instance, people should maintain contact with the professional world after they stop working full-time. This could be as simple as seeing old colleagues for lunch every so often, or it may even involve working part-time or freelancing if their type of profession can accommodate that sort of a schedule. For those who have already cut themselves off from the working world, it may be beneficial to start moving back towards it before the divorce process begins. This could involve dredging up old contacts and rebuilding a professional network, or maybe even finding a new part-time job.
Another way stay at home spouses can protect themselves is through either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. These agreements allow couples to decide issues like spousal support for themselves, and thus allows for the creation of a safety net for the spouse who chooses to stay at home.
If you are considering filing for divorce and would like more information about the process, reach out to a DuPage County divorce attorney. Our firm is happy to help you better understand your rights and your options.