If you and your spouse made the mutual decision that you would stay home and take care of your children, the decision may have involved making certain financial sacrifices. However, if you are in the process of getting a divorce, there is a unique set of personal and financial challenges that you should be prepared for as a stay-at-home parent, from complex custody issues to spousal support.
As a stay-at-home mom, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions as you prepare for the divorce process. While you cannot avoid some of the challenges associated with a divorce, there are proactive steps you can take to ensure that you are as prepared as possible.
Consider Your Options for Obtaining a Divorce
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may be concerned about how you will afford a divorce. However, it is in your best interest to have an experienced lawyer. The following are examples of divorce options:
- Divorce mediation: This may be a good option if there are certain issues that you and your spouse disagree on, but you are willing to work together with an experienced mediator. Mediators do not make decisions for you. Instead, they facilitate the communication between you and your spouse, including discussions about child support, custody, and spousal support, and present problem-solving alternatives.
- Collaborative divorce: This option allows you and your spouse to hire a lawyer trained in the collaborative divorce process to avoid going to court. If the collaborative process is unsuccessful, you will proceed to court.
- Litigation: If you and your spouse cannot agree on key issues, your divorce will likely need to be settled in a courtroom.
Assess Your Household Finances
Even if your spouse handled most of the finances during your marriage, it is important that you have an understanding of your household’s financial situation. This will be necessary to get a clear picture of your post-divorce finances so that you can establish a realistic budget going forward.
Gather Essential Documents
It is also important that you begin collecting and copying important documents, including:
- Marriage license
- Bank account statements
- Driver’s license
- Social Security cards of your family
- Life insurance policies
- Health insurance cards
- Mortgage statements
- Retirement account statements
- Pay stubs
- Tax records
- Statement for ongoing significant expenses like tuition payments
Take Inventory of Personal and Family Possessions
Start compiling a list of valuable items you want to keep after the divorce, including jewelry, artwork, furniture, cars, and appliances. Do not forget about items in a safe deposit box or stored elsewhere in your home.
Take Steps to Plan Your Financial Future
This is particularly important if you are a stay-at-home parent. Once you have collected critical financial documents and have a general idea of what your post-divorce finances will look like, it is recommended that you take the following steps:
- Create a realistic budget based on your income after the divorce.
- Update your resume to include your education, previous job experience, and other responsibilities that make you stand out as a potential employee.
- Review your credit report and determine your credit score.
- Establish credit by opening a credit card in your name only.
- Start to explore possible job opportunities and other sources of income as a single, stay-at-home mom.
Start Planning Your Future
You may have major concerns about custody matters, spousal support, and how to manage this upheaval as a single parent. Often, stay-at-home parents are awarded sole custody, and the other parent will be granted visitation, assuming both spouses agree and it is in the children’s best interest.
If you and your spouse disagree, the court may intervene and determine who will be awarded custody. It is normal to feel overwhelmed as you navigate the divorce process and the prospect of being a single parent. Do not hesitate to contact friends and family members for support during this difficult time.
Will I Receive Spousal Support as a Stay-at-Home Mom?
In New Jersey, marital assets are distributed in a manner the courts deem fair and equitable as opposed to an automatic 50/50 split. Keep in mind, however, that while your spouse’s income may have supported a single household, it may not be enough to cover the additional costs of two households.
Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Help Stay-at-Home Parents Navigate the Divorce Process
If you are a stay-at-home mom going through a divorce and need legal help, do not hesitate to contact our Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. To schedule a free consultation, call 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville, Morristown, and Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, Morris Plains, and Monmouth County.