If you are a stay-at-home parent on the verge of divorce, your life is likely to change dramatically. The very nature of a stay-at-home mom or dad—as opposed to a parent who works from home—means that he or she relies on his or her spouse to provide financially for the family. In the wake of divorce, a stay-at-home parent could be at a very serious disadvantage. Fortunately, such parents often have a number of options available to help offset some of the financial effects of a divorce, and a seasoned family law attorney can assist you in exploring them all.
Maintenance—also called alimony—is one of the most common tools that the courts use to help stay-at-home parents following a divorce. According to Illinois law, the court has the authority to order maintenance if either spouse has a legitimate need. The court must consider a number of factors in determining such a need, and your stay-at-home parent status is certainly one of them, but that alone is not necessarily enough to justify an award.
The court must take the entirety of your situation into account, including concerns such as:
- How your role as a stay-at-home parent contributed to the family’s health and well-being;
- Whether you have the ability to earn a reasonable living following the divorce and if doing so would be appropriate due to your post-divorce parenting responsibilities;
- The standard of living that you and your family enjoyed during your marriage;
- How long you were married and how much of your marriage was spent as a stay-at-home parent or homemaker; and
- Whether you were given a larger portion of the marital estate instead of ongoing, monthly support payments.
Every Family Is Different
If you ask for maintenance, the court will analyze your family situation very carefully. As with most aspects of divorce, your stay-at-home parenting arrangement is likely to have its unique elements that must be taken into account. For example, if your child is very young and you took a year or two away from your career to consider your options while your family lived off your spouse’s income and your combined savings, maintenance is possible but not a certainty. By comparison, if you have spent the last 10 or 15 years at home caring for your children and your spouse earns a fairly high income, the likelihood of a maintenance award is much greater.
The decision for one parent to stay at home is driven by countless variables, including financial concerns and personal values. Each of these considerations could affect the court’s decision regarding whether or not maintenance is necessary. For help with understanding your rights as a stay-at-home parent facing a divorce, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.