Divorce is a challenging and complex process for any individual, but if you’re a  stay-at-home parent, the implications can be particularly significant.

As the primary caregiver and homemaker, stay-at-home parents often face unique financial, emotional, and custody considerations both during and after divorce. However, it’s important to remember the reasons you decided to pursue divorce in the first place!

Once you get caught up in the whirlwind of paperwork, interactions with the court, and meetings with your attorney, you may forget why you’re on this journey – but we’ll be here to remind you. We stand firmly beside each and every one of our clients as we help them obtain the freedom to build the life they want, a life they are proud of. It’s not selfish to want a beautiful life, so stay focused on the vision you have for your future when things get tough!

Even if it was not your choice to end your marriage, know that you are strong and resilient. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, and you are worthy of happiness! Lean on your support network during this time, whether it’s friends, family, or a professional counselor, and take things one day at a time.

In this blog, we’ll explore what divorce means for you as a stay-at-home parent and address the concerns you’re likely facing – such as your financial stability, custody arrangements, returning to the workforce, and navigating the Texas legal system. Whether you’re currently contemplating divorce or already in the midst of it, understanding your rights and options as a stay-at-home parent is crucial for navigating this transition with confidence and clarity.

Financial Considerations

One of the first steps you should take is gathering the necessary paperwork to help your divorce attorney assess your financial situation, including:

  • Financial records like bank statements and loan information
  • Debt records, such as credit cards and loan statements
  • Children’s bank accounts
  • Employment records
  • Income tax returns
  • Investment account statements
  • Paycheck stubs and W-2 forms
  • Pension information
  • Retirement savings accounts
  • Social security statements
  • Wills and trust agreements
  • And any other relevant documents.

You’ll also need to inform your attorney of all of your assets – such as your bank accounts, properties, investments, vehicles, and personal belongings – and your debts or liabilities – ranging from the current mortgage to outstanding credit card balances.

Unfortunately, far too many stay-at-home parents fall victim to the false notion that they aren’t entitled to any of the marital assets in divorce because they did not financially contribute to the same extent as their spouse. This is not true!

Under Texas law, you are subject to “fair and just” division of your community property, regardless of your financial contributions to the household. However, the courts do take into account each spouse’s valuable contributions aside from money, such as homemaking and caregiving, and value the stay-at-home parent’s hard work and effort.

Financial Considerations Continued: Spousal Maintenance And Child Support

You may also be entitled to spousal maintenance and, depending on the custody arrangement for your shared children, child support, as well. When it comes to court-ordered spousal maintenance (or alimony), Texas is one of the most restrictive states. It may be possible to be granted temporary spousal maintenance payments until divorce proceedings are over or until you are able to support yourself independently. However, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate on your behalf for spousal maintenance payments that go beyond the formula and qualifications used by the courts.

In terms of child support, payments will be directly influenced by the results of your child custody arrangement. It’s typical for the noncustodial parent to make payments to the primary custodian.This financial support ensures that the children’s needs are met by funding such expenses as their housing, education, health care, and overall welfare expenses.

Custody Considerations

You and your spouse have the opportunity to agree on a custody or visitation arrangement for your shared children. This may be accomplished through mediation, collaboration, or negotiation in litigation. Your parenting plan, which outlines the agreed-upon arrangement, will be included as part of your divorce decree. It should also address other factors, such as how major decisions affecting the child’s upbringing will be made, how the child will be transported and exchanged between parents, how disputes will be resolved, how holidays will be shared, and more.

If an agreement cannot be reached, then a judge will ultimately make the final decision regarding custody. It is common for the parent that has been the primary caregiver for most of the child’s life to be granted primary residential custody in Texas, but the court may also consider other factors such as:

  • The child’s safety, health, and welfare
  • The child’s relationship with each parent
  • The mental and physical state of each parent
  • The parental history of each parent, and
  • The wishes of the child, if they are at least 12 years old.

Moving Forward: Regaining Your Independence

One of the most daunting tasks to conquer once you begin your new life will likely be returning to the workforce. This transition often comes with a myriad of challenges, like navigating the job market after an extended absence and re-learning skills that have faded, but it also presents an opportunity for growth and financial independence.

Some ways to potentially overcome the barriers that stay-at-home parents face when returning to a professional setting include:

  • Enrolling in college or vocational courses
  • Attending workshops or seminars
  • Participating in online learning platforms
  • Focusing on the still-relevant skills you had before
  • Understanding the skills you bring
  • Using your time at home to fill experience gaps
  • Acknowledging your “career break”
  • Practicing following a work schedule in advance
  • Network with other professionals
  • And more.

Moreover, you’ll need to adapt to your post-divorce single-income reality. Once you have a solid understanding of the role that spousal maintenance and child support will play in your finances, you can better manage your finances by doing things like creating a budget to track your expenses and ensure you live within your means, build an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, and build your credit back up.

Hembree Bell Law Firm Is Here To Help You Navigate Divorce With Confidence And Support

In this time wrought with confusion and uncertainty, feel free to lean on us. Our compassionate and skilled divorce lawyers will sit down with you and spend time getting to know your family and your circumstances. While other firms may treat you like just another case file that landed on their desk, we are a firm that helps real people solve their very real legal problems by building meaningful relationships that last. Call today to schedule your free initial case evaluation and learn more about your options today!

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