According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017 approximately 9.5 million (or 80%) of single parents in the United States were women. Of those 9.5 million single mothers 757,381 (or 8%) were divorced, stay-at-home moms.
Each year, thousands of married couples file for divorce for any number of reasons. Divorces are never easy or simple changes, and when it comes to stay-at-home mothers, this change can be even more overwhelming.
But with the right amount of planning and assistance, a stay-at-home mom’s divorce can be a positive change, the first step in reaching the next stage of life and ultimately, an improved well-being. Here’s how to get there.
Step One: Plan the Basics of Separation & Divorce
Few spouse realize how complicated interwoven their finances and personal lives become once married, whether it’s for a year or a decade. Whether you or your spouse initiated the divorce, planning for your separation is the key to a successful divorce process.
Take a 30,000-foot view of your financial situation. Look both at hard numbers – monthly income and expenses – but also at the less tangible aspects of your finances. If your monthly budget doesn’t leave much room for error or disposable income, you’re going to want to keep excellent records of your financial status.
It’s a good idea to keep records of the following:
- Income and expenses
- Assets and investments
- Debts, shared and personal
- Titles and registration documents
- Tax returns, filings and supporting documents
- Bank statements
- Anything else that documents your financial situation
Having all these documents will help your legal team understand the overall view of your finances, making it easier to decide things like division of assets, alimony and child support, if necessary.
Create a financial plan. Once your attorney has a good idea of your finances, he or she will be able to begin outlining the divorce process in terms of what you’ll need to do after the divorce to stay financially solvent. This may include getting a job or going back to school for training and education.
Perhaps more important than the financial aspect of your divorce is the personal one: how will you live once you’ve separated? The change is often more drastic than anticipated, and without proper planning, you may find yourself in a situation that harms you and your children down the road.
To help plan, ask yourself the following questions:
- Will I need to begin working to supplement my finances?
- If so, how long do I have until I need to find a job?
- How much savings would I need to live for six months?
- Can I support my children without my husband’s income?
- Where will I live, and how long will it take to make the transition?
Fortunately, these are all questions your attorney can help answer, so you aren’t alone during the planning process.
Step Two: Outline Separation Details – Child Support, Alimony, Etc.
If you’ve been married for more than ten years, have children or many assets and debts, your divorce proceedings are most likely going to take time to discuss and finalize. This is where you get into the actual details of your divorce, including arrangements made by the court and through mediation with your spouse.
Learn about child support and alimony. Your lawyer will discuss your options regarding alimony and child support, if they apply, and outline how those statutes work in your state. You may not have the option to seek alimony in your state, or if you do, you may need to follow strict guidelines to make sure you get what you’re eligible for.
In the case of child support and custody, your legal team will explain the potential options you have, and what kind of situations you may face when it comes to residential restrictions for your children. It’s important to note that even if you receive child support or alimony, these typically don’t cover the entire expenses for a child, or your own bills, so you’ll still need to have a strong financial plan in place to cover the gaps.
The division of assets with your spouse will allow you to see what you’ll need to replace, such as vehicles, furniture and the like, and what you’ll have the right to keep. You’ll also know which assets are free for you to take without debate, such as property you owned prior to the marriage.
Review any agreements that exist. If you signed a prenuptial agreement before you were married, your lawyer will review its statements and make sure that you are able to adhere to the agreement and still get what is rightfully yours.
Step Three: Make a Patient Transition
It can often take years to finalize a divorce and its arrangements. Patience during this time is key, and the more you planned ahead, the easier it will be to ride out the transition time and settle in your new life.
With children, the transition period is even more strenuous, and it’s important to remain available to your children, who will likely have plenty of questions both for you and your former spouse. By focusing on your stability during this time, you can minimize the impact of the divorce on you and your children.
With an eye on the future, you’ll be able to put your plan in place, do what you can to stay financially solvent and make your divorce an opportunity to begin anew.
Do You Need an Effective Divorce Lawyer in Arizona?
If you’re a stay-at-home spouse facing divorce in Arizona, don’t go it alone. Get the superior counsel you need to manage the divorce process with the Mesa divorce attorneys of JacksonWhite Law. We’ll help you protect your rights in court and help you get access to what’s rightfully yours.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.