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Divorce and the Stay-at-home Parent: Planning and Preparing for Significant Change

Divorce isn't easy on anyone. This heartbreaking decision affects not only you and your spouse but your children too. If you have been a stay-at-home parent to your children, it can be challenging to know what is on the horizon financially but, fortunately, there are steps you can take to be best prepared for the future ahead.

Common Concerns for Divorcing Parents

When a divorce involves children, parents naturally worry most about how the kids will be affected by the change, but it can be an especially stressful situation for stay-at-home parents. These parents have sacrificed a career in order to take care of the family, and this leaves them at a distinct disadvantage. They often lack the job skills required to be a quality candidate if they need to re-enter the workforce. Divorce can also cause quite an upheaval with scheduling. Childcare and other factors will need to be taken into account.

While divorce is a worrisome time for the stay-at-home parent, the situation is far from hopeless. There are many things you can do to plan and prepare in a way that will put you in the best position as you enter into a new life.

Prepare Properly for Your Divorce

Proper preparation involves both understanding the divorce proceedings and making smart choices. Some issues you will need to consider include:

Dividing Your Property

Division of property includes all marital property. This includes your family home, vehicles, retirement accounts, investments, and anything else of value that was purchased while married. You and your spouse can amicably divide your property, or you can get the court involved if you cannot agree. Any property you owned prior to the marriage remains yours and is not brought to the table during divorce proceedings.

Child Support

This is an essential part of divorce planning. If you have minor children, they deserve financial support from both mother and father. Virginia law has established a formula for child support amount calculation, and an attorney can help you determine what factors should be included when a final number is being determined via this formula. If you are the stay-at-home parent, it is likely your working ex-spouse might owe more child support, but this isn’t always the case, and working with a lawyer will help you avoid mistakes and potential financial penalties.

Custody Agreements

A steady, stable schedule is the best way to bring peace to your child’s life during the upheaval of divorce. The predictability of a regular schedule will also help you determine your available work hours if you are, in fact, applying for a job. If a schedule cannot be agreed upon between you and your ex-spouse, the court can step in and help with this.

Requesting Spousal Support

Stay-at-home parents have the option of requesting spousal financial support during the transition period of divorcing and figuring out their financial situation and future employment. If you are a stay-at-home parent in the state of Virginia with a sparse employment history, you are likely going to be awarded support. This is especially true if you have young children and your spouse has agreed that you should remain at home as a caretaker. Spousal support is intended to:

  • Provide a spouse financial resources to make the divorce equitable
  • Compensate a spouse for staying at home as a caretaker rather than going to work
  • Provide stay-at-home parents with a cushion they need while pursuing work or returning to school

When determining the amount of support to be received, Virginia courts take various factors into consideration, including:

  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Arrangements made during the marriage
  • The type of lifestyle the couple lived
  • Education level of each spouse at the time of divorce
  • Whether the stay-at-home parent is employable

While the court tends to side with stay-at-home parents in support rulings, you might not be eligible if it can be proven you committed adultery or some other offense that caused the absolute dissolution of the marriage. The duration of the support depends upon financial needs, how old the children are, and other goals and changes anticipated following the divorce.

What to Do to Protect Yourself

When filing for divorce, there is so much to think about. However, getting your finances in order should take priority. If you are requesting spousal support and want to have a solid plan in place post-divorce, there are a few steps you should take, including the following:

Keep Track of All Financial Documents and Records

The more organized you are, the better. Ceasing to have documentation in court can place you at a huge disadvantage.

Have a plan

Do you want to go back to school? Get a full-time job? Continue to stay home to care for or homeschool children? Know what you intend to do prior to entering into any legal negotiation.

Hire a Lawyer

Too many people decide to divorce without the assistance of a skilled attorney, and things often quickly become contentious as couples disagree on significant issues.

Do You Need to Speak to a Virginia Divorce Attorney?

If you are considering divorce you need to speak with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Fairfax, Virginia law office at 703.277.2811 to schedule your free consultation. We help clients throughout Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia and look forward to helping you.

Related Links:

  • Sound Advice About Child Support Guidelines

  • Can a Spouse’s Addiction Be Considered Grounds for Divorce in Virginia?

  • The Importance of Working With an Attorney Even if Your Divorce Is Uncontested