The Stay at Home Parent and Divorce
Kane County Family Law Firm
Although it has become more common in recent decades for both parents to work outside the home, many families still make the conscious choice to have one parent remain in the home full time to care for the household and the couple’s children. In a family like this, a divorce can create serious financial difficulties for the parent who remained in the home. Certain legal protections for stay at home parents exist, such as the right to seek spousal maintenance and the principle of equitable distribution during property division. Talk to your lawyer about these protections and how you can advocate for yourself during your divorce to ensure that you receive a fair share of your assets. If you are your child’s primary caregiver, you likely have additional concerns that your lawyer can discuss with you and help you to face in court.
Property Division for Stay at Home Parents
In Illinois, a divorcing couple’s property is divided according to the doctrine of equitable distribution, which means that the property is divided according to each partner’s personal and financial needs following the divorce, rather than simply cutting the marital estate in half. Factors considered when dividing a couple’s property include:
- The length of the marriage;
- Each partner’s financial and non-economic contributions to the marriage;
- The tax burdens of each asset;
- Each partner’s age, health, income, and capacity to earn a living;
- Relevant facts about the couple’s children’s custody; and
- The presence of a document such as a prenuptial agreement stating how the couple’s assets are to be divided in the event of a divorce.
An individual’s contributions as a homemaker are considered when determining how to divide his or her marital property. Be prepared to demonstrate that you performed this role effectively and that you abstained from paying work to provide this type of support for your family. If you do not have children or if your spouse shows that you had hired domestic help or other indications that homemaking was not your full-time job, the court may not deem your contribution as a homemaker to be worth much.
Spousal Maintenance in Illinois
Often, individuals who opt to stay home to stay for their children seek spousal maintenance as part of their divorce settlements. Spousal maintenance, sometimes known as alimony, is money paid from one spouse to the other following a divorce to prevent the receiving spouse from experiencing financial difficulty because of the divorce. Although permanent maintenance is sometimes awarded, mostly in cases where spouses were married for decades and cases where the receiving spouse is too old, unskilled, or disabled to realistically be expected to enter the workforce, it is rare. In most cases, spousal maintenance is awarded for a specific period of time, such as the length of time necessary for the receiving spouse to finish vocational training or a college degree to enable him- or herself to become financially self-sufficient.
Child Support and Parenting Time in an Illinois Divorce
It is in your child’s best interest to continue to have a consistent relationship with both parents after your divorce. In many cases, the court tries to keep a couple’s children in the marital home, which can impact which spouse receives the home in their divorce settlement.
Sometimes, this involves one parent buying out the other’s interest in the home and in others, it involves the primary caregiver and the children remaining in the home for a specified period of time, followed by the sale or refinancing of the home.
Your child’s parenting time arrangement is determined through the consideration of numerous factors, including:
- Your child’s relationship with each parent;
- Each parent’s income and assets;
- Each parent’s history of cooperation with the court; and
- The other parties present in each parent’s household and the child’s relationships with them.
If you are your child’s primary caregiver, your former partner may be required to make child support payments to help you cover the costs of raising your child.
Work with an Experienced St. Charles Divorce Attorney
As a stay at home parent currently going through a divorce, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and even powerless. But remember that even though you did not contribute as much to your marriage financially as your former partner, you made worthwhile contributions nonetheless and you have as much of a right to your marital assets as your former spouse has. To learn more about your rights during a divorce and how to protect them, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. today to set up your initial consultation with an experienced St. Charles divorce lawyer.