When a couple makes the decision to have one person stay home and raise their children, they often aren't considering the ramifications that this situation could have in the event of a divorce. While about 7 percent of men stay home to raise their children, nearly 25 percent of women decide to leave the workforce and invest their time and energy into child-rearing.
According to an article published in Forbes, women who become stay-at-home moms often do not get equal distribution of assets during the divorce process. This can be due to the fact that there is minimal legal value placed on the choice to stay at home, and because the man has acquired significantly more wealth during the time period of the marriage.
The value placed on stay-at-home moms in a divorce settlement
It may come as a surprise to many — and in particular, stay-at-home moms — but equal distribution of property and assets is not required by most states during the divorce process. In fact, a recent study found that a woman's choice to stay-at-home ultimately has a significant impact on how much she will receive during the divorce and how much spousal support she will continue to receive after the fact.
The study asked 300 participants to consider a scenario in which a couple had three children, and the wife chose to leave her career and raise the children. She never returned to the work force. After 17 years of the marriage, the husband filed for divorce. Then, after reading the scenario, the participants were given six different circumstances regarding the woman's educational level, previous occupations and personal property. These were the results:
- Women who participated in the study often awarded the wife a larger share of the distribution, regardless of her educational level or previous occupations.
- Men who participated in the study were more likely to give a different amount in distribution depending on the woman's educational level and previous accomplishments. If she had a higher level of education, they awarded her more.
The study highlighted the fact that stay-at-home moms almost never get 50 percent of the property or wealth during the distribution process, and most are not likely to receive long-term alimony.
Tips to protect stay-at-home moms going through a divorce
Stay-at-home moms can be vulnerable, especially in a divorce situation. They are likely faced with the fact that they will have to re-enter the work force, and many stay-at-home moms will have a difficult time achieving high-level, high-paying positions given the gap in their career. Stay-at-home moms can protect themselves by following these tips:
- Create a budget to outline your expenses for after the divorce.
- Create a list of what your priorities are in the divorce settlement.
- Learn the value of your marital assets, such as the home that you reside in or any accounts that have accrued throughout your marriage.
Facing a divorce as a stay-at-home mom?
If your main title has been that of mom throughout the majority of your decade, then you know firsthand the realities of this position which requires intense hours and no pay. If you are being faced with the possibility of divorce during this time period, you likely feel anxious about what is to come. It's important that you work with an attorney who will fight for your rights and make sure that your contributions to the marriage are considered during the divorce settlement process.
Contact us today to set up a consultation appointment with one of our experienced family law attorneys.