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How to navigate a divorce as a stay-at-home mom

Going through a divorce is difficult during the best of circumstances. Navigating a divorce when you are a stay-at-home mom can be particularly daunting. You worry about protecting your kids, as well as how you are going to continue paying your bills.

The court system recognizes the contributions of stay-at-home moms. You have avenues to pursue fair compensation for your work as a wife and mother.

Access and assess your finances

If you are the one requesting the divorce, you should prepare before you talk to your spouse. Though you may not be in charge of finances, you should find all the financial documentation that you can. You will be looking for bank statements, W2s, mortgage paperwork, insurance documents and other types of investments you own. These will help an attorney, mediator or divorce financial analyst get a clear picture of your combined assets.

Ideally, you have access to your bank accounts. If you are hiring any of the above types of counsel, you will need money to pay their fees. If you do not have access to money needed or are concerned your spouse may cut you off, there are legal options to pursue.

More than just pulling documents and accessing accounts, you want to examine your finances. Look at how much money you spend on your mortgage, utilities, cell phones, internet, and other day-to-day expenses. You want to figure out how much it is going to cost you to pay these bills separately. If there are expenses you can cut, now is the time to figure that out. You might want to consider whether paying the mortgage for your current home is financially wise.

Though you may receive child support and spousal maintenance, it is still important to understand your expenses. You want to ensure you will have enough money to support your children and yourself.

Decide whom to hire

When most people think about divorce, they think about hiring an attorney. Hiring an attorney might be in your best interests, particularly if the divorce is contentious.

You could also consider hiring a mediator, or see if your attorney offers mediation. A mediator will help you discuss how much money it takes to support your children and then come up with a realistic child support payment. The mediator will also help you determine what kind of spousal maintenance you deserve and for how long. Other than saving court costs, hiring a mediator means having a neutral party work with both of you. Staying out of court could also prevent some emotional stress for you and your children.

Spousal Maintenance

After you or your spouse has asked for a divorce, the situation could get contentious. Say you rely on your spouse for financial support, and he or she withdraws support after you discuss divorce. Your divorce does not need to be final for you to receive spousal maintenance. If your partner refuses to continue supporting you while your divorce proceeds, spousal maintenance can help bridge the financial gap for you and your children. If you decide to hire an attorney, the court will ultimately determine whether you receive spousal maintenance. An attorney can also counsel you about important issues like child custody and child support payments.

After a divorce is final, you will usually receive spousal maintenance for a set number of years, not for the rest of your life. Here are some of factors considered when awarding spousal maintenance in New York.

  • Assets and income of each spouse
  • Marriage length
  • Health and age of each spouse
  • The potential and current earning capacity for each spouse
  • Ability of spouse seeking maintenance to become self-sufficient
  • If care for children prohibits the spouse from working outside the home
  • Health insurance costs and availability

If you are a stay-at-home mom getting a divorce can seem incredibly intimidating. You need to protect your children’s best interests and make sure you have the means to support them. Understanding how to prepare and approach the situation can make the process less painful.

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