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Stay-at-home mom divorce: Follow these 3 steps to prepare

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Many women assume they will just live off child support and alimony in the event that they divorce. They are often shocked that this is not the case.

Here are the top 3 things SAHMs should do when facing divorce:

  1. Create a plan for financial independence, including starting or building a career. Be realistic, but with big goals.
  2. Share parenting time equally with your soon-to-be ex husband. More below, but this is what hundreds of studies find is best for children, best for women, best for men, and best for gender equality.
  3. Focus on a low-conflict divorce. This can include a DIY divorce agreement, mediation, collaborative or friendly divorce.

There is a growing movement toward equally shared parenting, and thanks to feminism and the opportunities that women have today, judges expect both parents to be adults, work, earn and pay their own bills.

In some cases, a judge may award the lesser-earner alimony, especially if you are a stay-at-home mom who has been out of the workforce many years. But that is not always possible.

Take me, for instance. I was married to a really nice, devoted guy who made a handsome income. We had a baby, bought life insurance, set up automatic contributions to our retirement accounts and emergency savings, and even started a college fund. He had disability insurance, but that never came into play after he fell off a cliff and nearly died of a brain injury – of which the lingering and devastating symptoms played a big role in dissolving our marriage.

Who could have planned for that? That is a crazy story. Not so crazy are these scenarios:

  • Divorce
  • Unemployment
  • Death of a spouse
  • Disability
  • Life. Stuff just happens and you have to stop working.

When I had my first child I’d enjoyed a lucrative freelance writing business, which I cut down to about third-time after Helena was born. After my ex moved out, I quickly ramped up my workload. So when the child support and health insurance stopped because he was fired (again, related to the injury), I was able to swing my family financially, even after I had another baby.

Had I not had a career, or an ongoing business, my son, daughter and my life would be in a very, very different place. We would likely be broke. I would be angry. I would be selling stuff I really care about and making decisions about our futures out of fear instead of love and happiness. I would have fewer choices, less power.

What happens if you get divorced as a stay at home mom?

Molly Rosenblum, owner and founding attorney of The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm in Las Vegas, says in Nevada, the expectation of the courts is that stay-at-home mothers will find some way to contribute financially to their own support. 

This usually means that the court will require stay-at-home mothers to become employed or enrolled in an education program to obtain future employment. 

While this may not be true in every state, it’s in your best interest to prepare financially for your future. Rosenblum offers this guidance for what to do if your spouse files for divorce: 

  1. Prepare a budget and asset and debt sheet to give to the attorney and/or judge so that the court has an understanding of the financial picture. 
  2. Gather relevant documents to support your asset and debt schedules. This could include tax returns, mortgage statements, car loan documents, utility bills, credit card statements, loan documents, bank statements, and other financial information. 
  3. Come up with a plan for income in case the court does not award enough support or if your spouse doesn't pay the ordered support. That might include obtaining education or investments to help supplement income. 
  4. Present alimony/child support to the judge. In Nevada, this can be done by way of a motion hearing or trial.

What to do when you can’t afford to leave your husband?

“Afford” is a relative term. Are you worried about maintaining your current lifestyle, and staying in your nice zip code with good schools? Or are you actually penniless and unable to rent a room and buy food?

Of course, money really does matter — a whole lot. In fact, I’d argue money matters more than love. After all, if you are asking What to do when you can’t afford to leave your husband? You likely no longer love your husband, and need money to get on with your life. You might even need money to get yourself and your kids out of a dangerous or abusive situation.

Ready to leave, but don't have your own income?

  1. If you don’t have a job, get a job. There are many career-level jobs for stay-at-home moms including: bookkeeping, coding and programming, and proofreading.
  2. If you have a job, work towards a raise or promotion. Take on a side gig.
  3. Call an attorney. RocketLawyer has an attorney directory where you can ask questions and get quick advice starting at $49. Read our RocketLawyer review.
  4. Educate yourself about the divorce process. This is our Divorce 101 Guide.
  5. Find out where the money is. If you are not earning the money, chances are you do not know how much money your ex makes, where the investment accounts are, or who has the mortgage in their name.
  6. Who gets the house in a divorce? Divorce property and assets division guide
  7. Aim for a low-confict, amicable divorce. The less you fight, the better off everyone will be long-term, especially the kids. Since you are in a financially disadvantageous position, you are more likely to lose if your case goes to court, or you have to fight your ex and a nasty lawyer. Collaborative divorce may be a good option, or you may be able to file your divorce yourselves.
  8. Take steps to be financially independent. Open your own bank and credit card accounts. Get a job and strategize for getting a better one. Understand what you can afford to live on comfortably, and how to sell your house.

Put your money in your own, separate account that your husband has no access to. I advise this for all women, but if you are in splitsville mode, you need to make sure that you have cash on hand. Once divorce proceedings start you must declare this account for a fair splitting of assets, but until then you need that money. Don't forget to keep an eye on your credit score.

Now, call an attorney. Tell them your plans, your family’s financial situation, and get a sense of what you are looking at financially during and after a divorce. Now, no matter if a lawyer tells you that alimony or a big settlement are likely (which they are not for most women), stay focused on earning and building your own income and wealth. Do not under any circumstances build your life around dependency on this man. That is how you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

If money is tight, you and your spouse may benefit from a mediated divorce, in which the two of you work for a short period of time with a neutral, trained professional to work out any disagreements about terms of your divorce.

Also: Do not use money as a reason to stay in an unhappy or abusive situation. It is OK to move in with your parents or a friend, or in an emergency, a shelter, to get out of bad situation and plant seeds for a better life. You are not helpless, and you are not pathetic. Money is just a hurdle that you have to overcome, and you can — and will.

Check out this story of a stay-at-home mom who overcame poverty after divorce and her advice for other stay-at-home moms:

There are many career-level jobs you can do from home:

Put your money in your own, separate account that your husband has no access to. I advise this for all women, but if you are in splitsville mode, you need to make sure that you have cash on hand. Once divorce proceedings start you must declare this account for a fair splitting of assets, but until then you need that money. Don't forget to keep an eye on your credit score.

Now, call an attorney. Tell them your plans, your family’s financial situation, and get a sense of what you are looking at financially during and after a divorce. Now, no matter if a lawyer tells you that alimony or a big settlement are likely (which they are not for most women), stay focused on earning and building your own income and wealth. Do not under any circumstances build your life around dependency on this man. That is how you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

Also: Do not use money as a reason to stay in an unhappy or abusive situation. It is OK to move in with your parents or a friend, or in an emergency, a shelter, to get out of a bad situation and plant seeds for a better life. You are not helpless, and you are not pathetic. Money is just a hurdle that you have to overcome, and you can — and will.

Check out this story of a stay-at-home mom who overcame poverty after divorce and her advice for other stay-at-home moms:

What to do when your husband or wife says they’re done

Should a stay-at-home mom get a job before divorce?

Yes, stay-at-home moms should get a job, period. Some attorneys or ill-informed friends may suggest that by keeping your income low, you will qualify for more child support and/or alimony. This is lousy advice for two reasons:

  1. Child support and alimony are almost never enough to live on, are unreliable (only 40% of child support owed is actually paid), increase conflict with your ex — which makes co-parenting harder — and keeps you small and dependent on that man. 
  2. Increasingly, judges — especially female judges, who themselves are ambitious, professional women — have little sympathy for women who choose not to work. Show the court and your ex and the world that no matter your current financial situation, you are committed to growing your earning potential, working hard and achieving financial independence. 

Check out our post with a list of jobs for stay-at-home moms.

Do stay-at-home moms get alimony in divorce?

Here is the reality of what to expect in divorce:

Alimony is going out of favor with judges, as women gain more access to careers and education. Child support is still common, but rarely, if ever, enough to live off of.

Plus, there is increasing support for equally shared parenting time, and no child support at all, paid to either party. After all, if both parents now have responsibility for the kids equal time, and each have equal time to work and earn, it does not make sense for one parent to pay the other parent’s bills.

The best-case scenario is that you are awarded financial assistance from your husband for a limited time, and are expected to find work and become financially independent of him.

The very best-case scenario is that you both equally share in the responsibility of raising the children. This is hard to do when he is really angry about financially supporting you, and you are really angry that he doesn’t do his share, or that your lifestyle is so compromised.

Many women assume that their kids’ dads are not capable of being good fathers because they were not very involved during the marriage. However, there is a phenomena in which men thrive in fatherhood after divorce, in part because they have to now that the mother is not around to save them, and also because they find their groove and confidence as a parent because they are not being criticized or otherwise default to the mother, who is around and involved more.

Read these rules about how to be a good co-parent. Also, learn more about what science says about equally shared parenting time.

One of the first co-parenting apps, and widely used app, OurFamilyWizard, which features chat, information storage (like pediatrician and teacher contact info, prescriptions, etc.), and financial record-keeping. 30-day free trial, discounts for military families, and a program to provide OurFamilyWizard free to low-income families. Each parent can add unlimited numbers of other people for free, including children, grandparents, step and bonus parents, as well as attorneys. Read our review of OurFamilyWizard.com.

Stay at home divorce: Alimony and how it holds women back (alimony arguments debunked)

Alimony was a huge feminist coup in the 1960s and 1970s when divorce rates first skyrocketed, and women had scant professional, education, legal, political and financial standing (Sisters: we were not allowed to hold a credit card in our own names until 1973!).

Since then, the world has changed, laws and opportunities have changed, and so, too, must what we expect from marriage — and life post-marriage.

Thankfully, alimony reform is underway in almost every state in the United States, and lifetime maintenance is more or less over.

Despite the blaring reality that men and women should always have a way to support themselves, women are still pressured painfully to be full-time stay-at-home moms.

Pew Research found that 40 percent of Americans believe it harms children when mothers work outside the home, and 80 percent of respondents told Working Mother magazine they feel guilty for working.

Nevermind the fact that the vast majority of mothers need to work so they and their children can eat, or the mounds of both research and anecdotes that prove that children, mothers, marriages and the economy thrive when moms are employed — we are still told that at-home is best.

Today I understand that turning down alimony and supporting women in financial independence is the real equality coup.

If you, like me, assumed that alimony was good for women, was a source of fairness and justice, you likely have one of these arguments the ready. Let's break them down:

Alimony argument: 

We had an agreement — He would work and earn, and I would stay home with the kids. He broke that agreement and now owes me.

I am all about approaching marriage as a business deal, and in fact, you did have a deal.

Business deals end every single day, and I know of zero exits in which one business partner is ordered to compensate the other in perpetuity for hurt feelings and lost earning potential.

Divorce, just like in business, includes splitting the assets, debts, and finding an equitable way of managing and taking care of any outstanding obligations (like child rearing).

In business, no one is monetarily punished because the cafe couldn't turn a profit, or the bicycle shop burned down, or the software company went belly-up in a recession.

In business, when shit happens, both partners suck it up and do their best to move on with their respective lives, like two adults.

First of all, a full-time stay-at-home mom is not full-time work after our kids turn age 3. For our great-grandmothers, housework was a full-time endeavor. It hasn't been since the 1950s. Instead, nearly all housework is automated and outsourced to clothing and linen manufacturers in China, commercial farmers and food manufacturers, makers of washing machines, dishwashers, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, self-cleaning ovens — and every other modern convenience that makes the idea of a “housewife” laughable.

In fact, helicopter parenting not only holds kids back, but it makes women broke.

Child care and housekeeping do of course still need to be done, though all research finds that children ages 3 and older do far better at quality child care centers, and benefit zero from long hours with parents. Even for hours that mothers do spend with children have a market rate. Again, if you argue that you should be paid alimony for your house and child care duties, that rate should be based on market rate — not a percentage of your husband's income.

Child care centers costs on average, nationally, $226 per week for one child, according to a survey by Care.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that house cleaning averages $13.84 per hour.

That means that if you were enjoying a lifestyle that corresponds with more than, say, a $20,000 annual income, you got a great bargain.

And if you were living at or below the poverty line during your marriage, then a judge probably wouldn't grant you any of your ex's income — because there simply isn't enough to go around.

Alimony argument:

He needs to compensate her for lost wages

You may say: “It is not fair. I forsook my career and earning potential to stay home / work part-time / take a lower-paying job, which allowed him to build his career, and now I am SOL. He needs to compensate me for that lost earning potential, and for helping him to build his career.”

First of all, you say that this was a mutually agreed-upon arrangement, and perhaps it was.

But, the real story likely includes some element of at least one of these scenarios:

  • You got laid off/ fired / your business tanked and you just never got back in the career saddle.
  • You weren't very good at your chosen career. Your business never worked out, or you never had much of a career to start with.
  • Your husband urged you to work. Begged and pleaded with you, and you refused.

Maybe it is a little bit of all those stories. These things can be complicated, open for interpretation.

Child care is crazy-expensive, and at the time, it very likely seemed like you had no choice but to stay home.

No matter. The reality: You took a risk, and decided not to have a career — or down-ramped to a lower-paying job with less potential.

You chose to be dependent on a man, even though there are no financial experts in the world who would support that as a wise move.

You knew very well that divorce rates have hovered around 50 percent for 40 years, yet you did nothing to financially protect yourself or your children against that.

Breakups aside, there is pretty much a 100% chance that your husband would

a) Become disabled

b) Become unemployed

c) Become chronically ill

d) Die

You likely have life and disability insurance, which you are far less than 50% likely to need.

But you did nothing to maintain your earning potential which would protect your family in any of those scenarios, either.

That was a risk you took. It didn't work out, and you lost. I'm sorry about that. I really am. But it is not another person's responsibility to compensate you for your loss. Scratch-off didn't win? You don't sue the bodega owner.

As for the notion that you made your husband's career … OMG. First, if you were, in fact, a co-owner of a business, then hopefully you got that legally locked down, and then there are mechanisms for divvying that up, or, in some cases, ex-spouses go on to successfully co-run businesses. Pretty cool.

But if you think that taking care of the kids and house makes a man, guess again.

  1. That man goes to work every day with successful women who are also wives and mothers — many of them single mothers. And plenty of them are really hot. Women can and do it all. (But not entitled ones.)
  2. Increasingly, judges who insist that stay-at-home moms get back to work ASAP are often females — judges who themselves had to claw their way to the bench in a chauvinist industry, while their children enjoyed perfectly nice child care. Male judges are sick of educated, competent, healthy women arguing that they should not have to work — as many of of these guys have professionally hard-working wives (or ex-wives to whom they bitterly pay alimony). The sympathy for this thinking is simply out of step with the times.

Alimony argument:

I do work! I am building a business / doing art / going back to school. We agreed I would get this off the ground, and he would support me!

Again, I get that was the verbal contract, and it is now not being honored.

That happens, and it is often unfair. I am sorry.

In the real world, every upstart endeavor has its limits. Startups answer to investors who demand returns on their funding. Your startup did not have those real-life limits.

Art patrons expect quality, marketable work after a certain period — or other favors. You were in a cushy arrangement in which you did not have to answer for your lack of success.

The good news is that I can attest to hearing countless stories of women who left an unhappy marriage, only to find themselves surprised by their success — and a bit dismayed at the realization that they'd held themselves back professionally, creatively and financially for the sake of pandering to a man's ego.

That was my story.

Ladies, the free market is a beautiful thing.

Too much cushy support with no accountability is good for no one.

This is scary, I know. You can do it. Trick: When I find myself really scared about making it, screwing up my kids, living on the street, I have a mantra:

Dumber people have done this successfully.

Again, if alimony is even a consideration, you are very likely to be rich. Get over yourself, get a job.

Alimony argument:

He has so much more than I do. It's not fair.

You know who has a lot more money than I do? A whole, whole, whole lot of people.

Some of them I know personally.

Do I expect these rich people to write me a check every month to equalize our lifestyles? No, because I didn't earn their money.

You are no longer married to this man.

You do not get to enjoy a lifestyle you did not earn just because once upon a time you were attractive to a man who was able to provide a lifestyle higher than one you earned yourself. I don't care if you are very, very beautiful, charming, from an impressive family or have a golden, fur-lined pussy.

You are not entitled to anyone else's anything if you did not earn it yourself.

He is free to go on and build and enjoy whatever lifestyle he wants. You are, too. That is the beauty of divorce.

The sooner your bank accounts and homes are separate, the sooner you will both go forth, and hopefully, create happy lives.

Perhaps you have a career — even a very successful one — that happens to earn a lot less than your now-ex.

Again, that is your choice. You chose that career, knowing its earning limitations.

Your ex chose a different career — one with a higher cap. Perhaps you love your work, and he hates his.

Do you owe him a slice of your professional fulfillment each month?

Further, by insisting that your lifestyle be attached to his income only perpetuates the sexist message that a woman's worth is directly related to the social class of the man she marries/has sex with.

NOT A GOOD LOOK.

Argument:

This is not money for me; it is for the kids.

No, and you know that. Child support is for the kids; alimony is for the lessor-earning spouse to “maintain the lifestyle in which they are accustomed.”

To fulfill that promise, you are putting untold energy, time and money into finding ways to get money from a man with whom you are no longer romantically involved. If you get that money, you will be forever financially dependent on him.

That isn't a good look.

Alimony argument: 

I was always taught that it is best for children and marriages when the mom stays home, and if the marriage ended, then we were protected by alimony. Now we are all SCREWED.

If you have been arguing with me as you read this, you are likely really angry at your ex, the world, and there is likely a deep sense of shame about decisions you made.

I understand. I was a stay-at-home mom for about a year, and I decided to leave a high-paying career that I loved passionately, without any critical thought at all, because I blindly bought the presumption that being a full-time stay-at-home mom is what is best for children.

Pew Research found that 40 percent of Americans believe it actually HARMS children when their mothers work outside the home!

Turns out, you and I were totally wrong. Research by Harvard's Kathleen McGinn found, after studying 30,000 families in 20 countries, that both boys and girls with working mothers fared better than those with stay-at-home moms.

A University of Maryland meta-study of more than 30 other pieces of research concluded that after age 2, it doesn't matter at all how many hours parents spend with their kids. Stunning. Totally against what we were taught, and what we assumed.

Which brings us to your point: This isn't fair. It isn't fair. You were fed one line, a path for success and family health, and you obediently obeyed. Then the script changed, you divorced, and you are left high and dry.

Here is what no one will say to you: I'm sorry, but too bad, you still have it damned good.

We are in the middle of a war on sexism. A revolution for gender equality. In war and revolutions, there are casualties. Historically, these casualties are lives and limbs and eyesight.

Today, the fallout is that you might have to move from a large house to an apartment.

Or from your own apartment to sharing a home with a relative or friend. You may have to work in a job below your education level.

I imagine that is hard and embarrassing.

Yet, you are not dead or dismembered.

Here, in the divorce wars, the casualties are children — and it is all connected to money. Statistically, the #1 reason for divorced spouses returning to court, again and again, is alimony.

When you are fighting with your ex, you cannot co-parent. When money is at stake, lesser-earning parents (moms) are prone to fight for unequal parenting time, so as to qualify for more child support.

When parenting time is unequal, the lesser-time parent (dads), are statistically likely to check out of their children's lives. Fatherlessness is a critical issue in this country. Money is central to it.

The goal is to raise young women and men to presume financial and logistical responsibilities for themselves and their children.

That won't happen if mothers and grandmothers are modeling financial dependence and traditional gender roles.

That won't happen if young people do not have a model.

When you are going through the life-fuck that is divorce, you likely feel powerless. Every vertical of your life is in upheaval, and the sense of loss of control can be crippling.

The reality is that you have enormous power here. You have the power to focus on your beliefs and morals and act accordingly.

When you tell your ex: “I know I can go after more of your money, but I won't so we can both get on with this,” or “You know I am totally broke here, so if you can agree to pay me alimony for 18 months so I can get back on my feet, we can both move on with it already,” you are so powerful.

You are expressing to him grace and maturity (even if he doesn't deserve it, and I understand that he may not!). You are expressing to your children the importance of co-parenting, and therefore their well-being and security.

You are telling every young woman who is watching you the importance of caring for her own financial self throughout her life.

And you are modeling to everyone watching you the power of forgiveness and strength in the face of adversity — and that includes forgiveness of yourself.

Do stay-at-home moms get custody in divorce?

Traditionally, the assumption was that children’s lives should not be disrupted if at all possible in divorce. Four decades of widespread divorce have taught us that by keeping women financially dependent on men in an effort to keep her home with the kids is a recipe for poverty for everyone involved, high tensions and co-parenting conflict — and no one moving on after divorce.

Instead, stay-at-home moms today are not automatically entitled to keep the house, and fathers are far more involved than generations past. There is an increasing movement to award equal, 50-50 parenting time to the parents, since that is what 60 peer-reviewed studies find is what is best for children, and what is fair and equitable to men and women.

Do you have to pay child support if you have joint or 50/50 custody?

This all may seem to be scary and overwhelming, and I understand why: You assumed your life would be a certain way, that you had an agreement with the division of home and money labor with your husband, and it is now all over.

Many women who were stay-at-home moms fail to demand payment full-time child care because they have a hard time imagining that they will need it — or simply can’t let go of their dream of staying home. Instead, I urge you to hire a nanny or day care full-time, and get to work. You and your ex should split evenly child care expenses since they benefit you each equally — though a family court judge likely will order that this expense be split according to each party’s income.

Plus, recent research found that moms who share parenting time equally are more likely to earn more. Our study of 2,279 single moms found that those who share parenting time 50/50 are 300% more likely to earn at least $100,000 per year.

Plus, if you take custody out of the fight, you are more likely to have an uncontested divorce, which means less money, less time, less stress and better outcomes for your whole family.

How a SAHM can afford to leave a marriage

Here’s the good news: We live in an age of unprecedented opportunity for women and mothers. The economy and feminists before us have created a scenario in which we do not have to be dependent on men. We can work and earn and live in whatever goddamned house we want to afford.

And you will find as you move past your divorce, and date and find love and build a career, that you don’t want to have the kids around 24/7. You will look forward to recharging and relaxing while they are with their dad. That is normal and healthy, because you are a normal, healthy woman.

Even better: Today part-time, consulting and freelance work is not only increasingly available to employees, but also growing in popularity among employers. There is such incredible opportunity all around you!

9 stereotypes that keep single moms broke, overwhelmed and alone

How do stay at home moms protect themselves financially?

The best way for stay-at-home moms to protect themselves financially is to keep a foot in the professional world with a part-time job or side gig, ideally one that could transition into a full-time gig if you needed to support yourself independently.

If you live in a community property state, the value of all assets and debts obtained after the marriage are supposed to be divided 50/50. That means even if you don't work, you are entitled to 50% of the value of your house, cars, and any other shared property.

These states are:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

However, if you live in an equitable distribution state, property is divided fairly, not necessarily 50/50. A judge will determine how the property is divided unless you and your spouse agree ahead of time or work with a mediator to divide assets. Learn more about how to get a divorce without a lawyer.

Stay-at-home mom divorce FAQs

Are stay at home moms more likely to divorce?

Two Boston University economists found that divorce rates were lower in states with a high percentage of two-earner households. Likewise, states where a high percentage of women were employed — such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa — had a lower divorce rate than states like Kentucky or Arizona, where less women were employed. 

What if as a stay at home mom I’m scared to divorce?

Rosenblum says stay-at-home moms are often hesitant to divorce because they fear losing their children, their home, and their financial security.

“We often see stay-at-home moms who have been emotionally, financially, and even physically abused stay in their marriage because of this fear,” Rosenblum says. More commonly, however, is that women are simply scared of the unknown that will come with leaving a marriage — and losing their quality of life. 

If you know the relationship is over, not healthy, or potentially dangerous, Rosenblum says you need to leave it for the sake of you and your children. 

“No amount of financial safety is worth your life, your physical health, and potentially your children's health and safety to stay,” she says. 

If you are a stay-at-home mom who wants to divorce, Rosenblum recommends making a plan if you are in a safe environment and have time to do so, asking yourself the following questions:  

  1. How will you pay your bills if you don't get an immediate award of spousal support? 
  2. How will you become self-supporting? 
  3. What happens if your ex doesn't pay you for one month? 

“When I meet with stay-at-home moms, we usually map this out and talk this out from the very beginning of our retention,” Rosenblum says. Again, do not wait until after the divorce to start on your new professional journey.

How do stay at home moms survive divorce?

Rosenblum says counseling and self-care are a big part of getting through divorce as a stay-at-home mom, as well as finding a support network of friends, family, and community. 

“Divorce is a shock to a stay-at-home mom’s very being, and getting her through it takes a little more,” Rosenblum says. 

She says she helps stay-at-home moms budget their finances, plan for long-term savings and retirement, figure out custodial schedules, and find daycare if they return to work full time.

“As lawyers, we try to help them find a light at the end of the tunnel,” Rosenblum says. “We try to help them see their new life and explain that this is a new chapter for them.”

Surround yourself with other positive, professional women to absorb by osmosis that your new reality is healthy and productive for both you and your children — who will likely thrive in daycare. 

Bottom line: If you are a stay at home mom getting a divorce, be prepared

If you are a stay-at-home mom getting a divorce, the most important thing to do is be prepared, both for the divorce proceedings and for life after divorce. Make a plan to secure a job, find housing if needed, and secure child care. 

If you can, aim for a collaborative divorce, where you and your ex set the terms of your divorce on your own or with a mediator. This works if you can agree on things like: 

  • Division of assets (house, cars, etc.)
  • Debts
  • Child custody schedules
  • Child support and alimony

How to divorce a narcissist

What to do when you can’t afford to leave your husband?

Do not use money as a reason to stay in an unhappy or abusive situation. It is OK to move in with your parents or a friend, or in an emergency, a shelter, to get out of bad situation and plant seeds for a better life.

What happens if you get divorced as a stay at home mom?

Molly Rosenblum, owner and founding attorney of The Rosenblum Allen Law Firm in Las Vegas, says in Nevada, the expectation of the courts is that stay-at-home mothers will find some way to contribute financially to their own support.

Should a stay-at-home mom get a job before divorce?

Yes, stay-at-home moms should get a job, period. Some attorneys or ill-informed friends may suggest that by keeping your income low, you will qualify for more child support and/or alimony. This is lousy advice.

Do stay-at-home moms get alimony in divorce?

Alimony is going out of favor with judges, as women gain more access to careers and education. Child support is still common, but rarely, if ever, enough to live off of. The best-case scenario is that you are awarded financial assistance from your husband for a limited time, and are expected to find work and become financially independent of him.

How do stay at home moms protect themselves financially?

The best way for stay-at-home moms to protect themselves financially is to keep a foot in the professional world with a part-time job or side gig, ideally one that could transition into a full-time gig if you needed to support yourself independently.

Are stay at home moms more likely to divorce?

Two Boston University economists found that divorce rates were lower in states with a high percentage of two-earner households.

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

One Comment

I was with you until you dropped the G D. You can raise your vocabulary higher to illustrate your points. Perhaps an edited version would serve a wider audience.

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