Divorce is never easy, especially for stay-at-home parents. While the job of a stay-at-home–protecting and caring for children–is an invaluable service, unfortunately, the job does not pay money. And a divorce is often quite costly.
To assist, we offer a divorce guide for stay-at-home parents in Massachusetts to help you navigate these difficult times and maintain realistic expectations during the process.
Researching Divorce Options
The end result of a divorce is the dissolution of marriage, but there are multiple ways to get there. Different types of divorce lend themselves to various situations. Litigation is the most expensive process, so you may want to choose one of the following options to provide the best solution for your family.
In mediation, an unbiased third party works out a deal with both parties to facilitate a non-litigious divorce. There are generally no lawyers in the room during sessions to maintain the non-confrontational environment, but parties can consult an attorney ahead of time or in between sessions. You should also have a lawyer review any agreements you reach before signing.
- Collaborative Divorce
In a collaborative divorce, parties each bring their attorneys and work together to find a solution they can both agree to. The collaborative divorce process allows parties to resolve their conflicts out of the courtroom, which is desirable to many.
Assessing Your Household Finances
If you have not been keeping track of income and household expenses, now is the time to do so. When you assess your household finances, you will have a better idea of how to budget in the future with your post-divorce income. You will also understand the extent of your assets and liabilities as a couple, so that you are prepared to work to obtain your fair share.
If you do not already have a credit card in your own name, apply for one soon so you can build credit and have a safety net in case of an emergency.
Affording a Divorce
You need to consider not only how you will manage your household financially after the divorce, but how you will pay for expenses during the divorce. In addition to legal fees, your living expenses in a separate household will be higher than before.
This is not the time to let pride get in your way. If you do not have money saved or assets you are prepared to liquidate, you may want to seek temporary alimony from your ex to provide you with funds to pay expenses during the divorce process. If your spouse lacks the resources to help, then it may be time to borrow from family or friends. The most critical need is to ensure that you and your children are in a safe situation. Debts you incur can always be repaid at a later date.
Getting a Job Before Divorce
Some attorneys advise stay-at-home parents not to get a job before divorce in the hopes that it will encourage the judge to order more alimony. This strategy can backfire, however, because alimony is going out of favor as more parents work. Furthermore if issued, alimony is rarely enough to live off and requires supplementing. Having a job offers stay-at-home parents a level of independence and allows them to care for the children and their own needs financially.
Determining Child Custody
In many divorce cases, the stay-at-home parent typically gets primary residential custody. Usually, the judge wants to avoid interrupting the lives of the children as little as possible. The parent who provided caretaking duties before the divorce typically gets residential custody to maintain the status quo. However, if you want to negotiate a shared parenting arrangement to make it easier to focus on a new job, make sure your attorney understands your goals early on in the process so they can help you reach the best solution for your family.
An Experienced Divorce Lawyer Helps Stay-at-Home Parents Move Forward After Divorce
Divorce as a stay-at-home parent is stressful, but you do not have to go through the process alone. Contact us to speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys. We understand the challenges you face and we are dedicated to helping you find equitable solutions that allow you and your family to move on after divorce.