Stay at home moms seeking to divorce have unique concerns and challenges. The right divorce help for stay at home moms is critical to allow stay at home moms to meet the unique challenges they face and to protect their interests in divorce. The most important stay at home mom divorce advice we can give you is this: be prepared.
The most common concerns for stay at home moms who are divorcing:
- Will I get custody of my kids?
- How long will I receive alimony for?
- How much alimony will I receive?
- Do I receive an equal share of marital assets since I did not work outside the home?
- How can a stay at home mom afford a divorce?
- Should stay at home mom get a job before divorce?
Stay at Home Mom Divorce Advice: Child Custody
All things being equal and unless you have a serious mental health or addiction issue, stay at home moms divorcing will likely share custody of the children with the other parent. There are two types of custody – legal and residential. Legal custody concerns the right to make health, safety and welfare decisions for the children. In NJ there is a presumption that both parents will have joint legal custody. Residential custody is where the children primarily live. The parent who gets primary residential custody is usually the parent who provided the majority of the care taking responsibilities for the children before divorce. There are two types of residential custody arrangements – sole and shared. In a sole parenting situation, the non-custodial parent spends less than 2 overnights with the children on average each week. In a shared parenting situation, the non-custodial parent spends 2 or more overnights with the children on average each week. How your particular situation will play out will be decided with your attorney’s help. Our stay at home mom divorce advice is to begin by making a list or keeping a journal of your activities and caretaking responsibilities for the children. If the other parent spends little time with the children or travels outside the home frequently, also make a note of their schedule. These facts will be important going forward in determining who was the true primary caretaker before divorce.
Stay at Home Mom Divorce Alimony
There are a number of different types of alimony in NJ and your lawyer can help you determine which one is most appropriate in your particular situation. These include: Limited Duration or Term Alimony, Open Durational Alimony (fka Permanent Alimony), Rehabilitative Alimony, and Reimbursement Alimony. In the most common scenario we see, most stay at home moms divorcing are looking at limited duration or term alimony, or open durational alimony. There is NO formula for determining how much alimony you will receive although many lawyers use a formula just as a rule of thumb. Instead, we will examine the 13 statutory alimony factors, your respective marital lifestyle and future budgets, each person’s ability to offset their own budgetary needs with their own income, and whether after the application of their income, that person still has a need for alimony. This is a complicated analysis beyond the scope of this blog. The length of time you will receive alimony is easier to determine because the statute speaks to this explicitly. If your marriage is less than 20 years in length, the maximum length of alimony is equal to the length of your marriage. For example, if you are married for 13 years, you can receive no more than 13 years of alimony. If you are married for 20 or more years, you qualify for open durational alimony (which we used to call permanent alimony). But even these term limits are not automatic or guaranteed. Stay at home moms looking for divorce advice should speak to an attorney with a specialty certification in family law, like the attorneys at DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law to put you in the best possible position for alimony.
Do stay at home moms divorcing receive an equal share of marital assets if they did not work outside the home?
The division of assets and debts in a divorce is called equitable distribution. Under the NJ laws, a stay at home mom who does not work outside the home is NOT penalized in any way when it comes to sharing in the assets of the marriage. In fact, the statute rates as an equal factor the dependent spouse’s non-financial contribution to the marriage such as caring for children and the home. So there is nothing to worry about for stay at home moms divorcing here. However, there is no automatic equal sharing of assets in all cases. But you can assume that whatever assets were accumulated during the marriage (regardless of how they are titled) will be divided equally.
Stay at Home Mom Divorce Help: Affording Divorce
Anyone seeking divorce has the right to use income or money from any source, loans from friends or family, marital credit cards or lines of credit, or assets of the marriage to pay for the divorce. This means that you can liquidate assets and create debt to pay a lawyer to represent you in a divorce. You can borrow the money from a friend or family member, and that loan will be considered a marital debt that needs to be allocated in the divorce. You can charge the lawyer’s fees on a credit card and again, that debt will be a marital debt that gets allocated in the divorce. But how do you divorce a husband with no money? If your spouse has no income or resources to help pay for your attorney, then you are forced to at least initially borrow the money from a bank, a friend, or a family member. You can also charge fees on a credit card. If there is an asset that cannot be liquidated quickly like a house, some lawyers will work with you to get future fees paid when the house sells but even then, they are going to want an initial retainer up front to get started. If you are truly impoverished or indigent, you may qualify for Legal Services of New Jersey.
Should a stay at home mom get a job before divorce?
Every person is different and there is no easy answer to this question. Our general advice is yes, do what you can to bring in an income. This provides stay at home moms who are divorcing with some security and financial resources if your divorce goes off the rails and your spouse withholds support or resources from you. But this is easier said than done, especially if you have children requiring daycare with you at home, have been out of the job market for some time such that your skills are no longer current, or you lack the skills or education to obtain more than a low-income position. This is an issue best discussed with your attorney who should guide you in this aspect of your stay at home mom divorce. You may also wish to consider working with Norwescap as they have multiple educational and employment resources available for moms returning to the workforce.
Stay at Home Mom Divorce Advice: Be Prepared
The two critical components to launching your divorce case are: (1) assembling the right team, and (2) assembling your case. When choosing an attorney, you should take the same approach you would with a health issue. Would you let your family doctor perform open-heart surgery on you? Of course not! It stands to reason that if you are about to divorce, then you need an attorney that specializes in divorce and family law to guide and assist you, a stay at home mom who is divorcing. That means retaining an attorney with a specialty certification in matrimonial law, like the lawyers of DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law.
Divorce for a stay at home mom can be challenging but we are here to make you comfortable and secure in the process. Contact us today to schedule your consultation to receive stay at home mom divorce advice from one of our attorneys.