Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Getting Divorced

Getting a divorce can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially so for a stay-at-home parent. On the other side of your divorce often lies a return to the workforce, which means balancing your responsibilities to your children with your work commitments. Divorce raises a lot of questions and the answers can take some time to reveal themselves. If you are a stay-at-home parent facing the possibility of divorce, you may want to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney in order to get the guidance you need.

Consider Your Divorce Options

While you may be unfamiliar with all of the options available to you, you can start with a realistic assessment of how you think the divorce will proceed: 

  • Do you expect the divorce to be adversarial and hostile? 
  • Or do you think your divorce will be amicable? 
  • Do you and your spouse disagree over fundamental approaches to financial matters and raising your children? 
  • Is it possible for you to reach an agreement with your spouse on those things that are most important to you without the help of a third party?

The answers to these questions will then shape which option you choose in pursuing your divorce. 

  • A DIY divorce or “kitchen table divorce.” This is where the spouses work out the custody arrangements, child support, division of property, and other matters between themselves and without the involvement of attorneys on either side. You will probably need a divorce attorney to finalize your divorce, but this is a great way to save some money if you and your spouse can realistically work these issues out on your own. 
  • Litigation. This would be on the opposite end of the spectrum from a kitchen table divorce. Both sides are represented by counsel with all of the issues involved in your divorce being decided in court. For couples who are unable to get along, this may be the best option for obtaining a divorce. 
  • Collaboration. In a collaborative divorce, the divorce attorneys for each side work together to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The lawyers will then finalize your divorce with the court. 
  • Mediation. In this method, a neutral third party (the mediator) helps the parties come to an agreement concerning the issues in their divorce. It is less adversarial than litigation but more formal than collaboration or a kitchen table divorce.

Make a Realistic Assessment of Your Financial Situation

If you have been living on one income, the most important thing is to recognize that divorce will require that same income to support two households, at least for the time being. 

Housing is often the biggest expense. Even if one of you stays in the marital home for the foreseeable future, the other spouse will need to pay rent and will need to rent a space suitable for your children to stay when they have custody. This means that there will be additional utility bills. There will also be moving expenses, and they will need at least some new furniture. There may also be increased fuel costs in transporting your children between the two homes. Even minimal expenses can quickly add up. 

Meanwhile, you will need to determine will continue making payments on the bills you already have – one of the hidden expenses of a divorce are the late fees, interest, and other penalties that can accrue due to late payment because the spouses could not agree who was responsible for paying the bills. 

While this can be overwhelming, it will give you a clear picture of what you can expect moving forward. 

Think About Your Employment Options

Depending on your financial situation, you may need to make both short-term and long-term employment goals. In other words, you may need a job that is temporary just to help you get through until you can find something more permanent that aligns with your long-term employment goals. You should also consider the following factors:

  • What kind of jobs are you qualified for based on prior training and experience?
  • How easy is it to find a job in your area that aligns with your training and experience?
  • Do you have any certifications or licenses that you need to renew?
  • Do you need to finish a degree in order to be able to get the job you want? 
  • What can you reasonably expect to earn now and in the future and still be able to fulfill your obligations as a parent?

Keep in mind that you may be entitled to spousal support until you can finish your degree or get the job you want. A divorce attorney can discuss how this might fit into your plans.  

Do Not Make Decisions Out of Fear

One of the biggest mistakes that stay-at-home parents make is allowing fear to drive the decision-making process. This can take shape in many different ways, including the following: 

  • Deciding not to go through with your divorce because the unknowns are too overwhelming
  • Accepting a property settlement because you are afraid that further negotiations will cost too much time and money
  • Attempting to gain sole custody of your children out of fear of losing your relationship with them

It can be difficult to know when you are simply reacting out of fear. Take your time when making decisions, and try to examine the issue from all sides. If the situation is too upsetting, do not make a decision until you can approach the issue calmly. 

Find an Ally

You will most likely need professional help at some point in your divorce, such as an attorney, a financial planner, and perhaps a licensed therapist. Equally important is someone you have a personal relationship with who can help you work your way through the divorce process. Some of the characteristics you should consider when choosing an ally include the following: 

  • Does this person provide candid yet gentle advice?
  • Is this person a good listener?
  • Does this person know what is important to me and share my values?
  • Does this person understand the challenges that are unique to a stay-at-home parent going through a divorce?
  • Does this person approach problems analytically, attempting to view the issue from every angle?
  • Is this person good at finding alternative solutions to difficult situations?

This person can serve as an important emotional outlet and provide level-headed advice when you are feeling lost or overwhelmed. Having this one person in your life can also help you avoid overburdening other friends or family members.  

Contact Seattle Divorce Services

Be patient with yourself – divorce is a major life change. If you would like to discuss your options and get help navigating the process, contact us today at 206-784-3049 to schedule an appointment.