In generations past—or so television and movies tend to depict—the average American family relied on a single income provided, in most cases, by a breadwinning father. The mother was primarily responsible for staying home, maintaining the house, and raising the children. Such is no longer the case for the “average” family, as more and more households need two working parents to maintain an acceptable standard of living. Some families, however, have the means and desire to allow one parent to stay home, and many decide to just that. For these families, a divorce can have a dramatic impact on the parent who stayed at home, often leaving him or her struggling to become self-sufficient.
Asking for Maintenance
Maintenance, also known as alimony or spousal support, is one the tools that a court has at its disposal to help a stay-at-home parent during and after a divorce. According to Illinois law, the court may award spousal support if it finds that such an award is appropriate and necessary to alleviate the financial effects of the divorce on an economically-disadvantaged spouse. When deciding on the appropriateness of maintenance, the court will take many factors into account. A spouse’s role as a stay-at-home parent is part of the equation, but it is not enough, on its own, to make support necessary.
The court will also consider:
- Each spouse’s contributions to the family, including the stay-at-home parent’s responsibilities;
- The stay-at-home parent’s ability to generate income after the divorce;
- Post-divorce parenting arrangements for the couple’s children;
- How long the marriage lasted;
- The standard of living established during the marriage; and
- Whether the stay-at-home parent was given a larger share of the marital property instead of continuing maintenance payments.
Each Case Is Different
Stay-at-home parenting situations are as unique as the parties involved, and each case must be considered carefully by the court when maintenance is requested. For example, a very short marriage where one spouse took a year or two off work to care for an infant could receive maintenance, but an award is far from guaranteed. On the other hand, if one spouse sacrificed a career to stay at home for the better part of 20 years to raise three or four children, the court is far more likely to order support payments.
Let Us Help
If you are a stay-at-home parent who is facing an imminent divorce, you may have serious concerns about the future. Fortunately, the experienced DuPage County family law attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group are equipped to help. Call 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team and get the guidance you need today.