Whether you’ve made the decision to divorce, or the decision was made for you by the other parent, when you are the traditional “Stay-at-Home Parent”, you may be concerned about several issues as you navigate through the divorce process. The first step is to consult with an attorney. An attorney will ensure your rights regarding custody, visitation, support, and access to property are protected.
The first issue you typically need to prepare for is determining a custody and visitation schedule with the other parent for the minor children. As the“Stay-at-Home Parent”, you are most likely the one who handles the day-to-day tasks and requirements for the children, such as communication with teachers and helping with homework, taking the children to medical and dental appointments and caring for them when they are home sick from school, handling food preparation and other daily routine activities as well as facilitating their participation in religious and/or extra-curricular activities. It can be emotionally difficult to give up some of these customary tasks, even part of the time, that you view as a part of your identity. However, you must remember children need both parents in their lives and the other parent will likely step up during their time with the children. You will have to work with the other parent to agree about how the children will be raised going forward, as well as create a schedule of where the children will be with including days and times, based on what is in their best interest, not yours.
Another issue you need to resolve after the schedule is set is what proper child and spousal support amounts will be. The state provides guidelines for child support, based on your respective incomes and the amount of time the children spend with each of you. The court also has a guideline for temporary spousal support, with the goal of keeping you at the same “level” as during the marriage. The working parent may become resentful about paying you to stay home with the children. It’s likely the working parent will ask the court to reduce the support you receive by either 1) Asking for more time with the children and/or 2) Asking for you to be imputed income based on your ability to earn, even if you aren’t yet working! You, as a “Stay at Home Parent”, may be ordered by the court sometime to make an effort to become self-supporting. If you’ve been married, long-term (ten years or more) and think this is an impossible task, that may be the case, but so long as you make an effort to look for full-time employment that is less than what it would cost for childcare, then you’re meeting your burden.
These two examples are often the most pressing issues of concern for Stay-at-Home Parents, but often issues surrounding disposition of the family home, retirement, and other property become major factors in the divorce process. For specifics on your particular case, it is always best to consult with an attorney. Call for a consultation with one of the skilled attorneys at The Reape