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I Am a Stay at Home Mom Getting a Divorce, Should I Get a Job?

During my entire marriage, I’ve been a stay-at-home parent while my husband worked to support the household. Now that we’re getting divorced, should I start looking for a job?

Stay at home moms who divorce experience the same stress and anxieties any other parent goes through during this challenging chapter of life. Many stay at home parents have likely been out of the workforce for many years, especially in long-term marriages. This large window of unemployment can cause a few complicating issues in the divorce case. Whether or not to quickly get a job is a question that comes up often due to 2 recurring themes: the ability to care for children, and the potential impact on child and spousal support.

The number and ages of children involved

What fathers and stay at home moms should understand is the court will take into consideration the children’s needs when evaluating whether or not the stay at home mom should get a job. A stay at home mom going through a divorce who cares for several young children who have disabilities is going to be treated differently than a stay at home mom who has healthy teenagers.

The skills and job qualifications of the stay at home mom

The court is required to look at the ability and opportunity to work and determine, based on its discretion, whether income should be provided to the stay at home mom. Someone who has been unemployed for a short period of time, who consistently held down jobs before staying home with the kids and is well qualified for work will be viewed differently than someone who has been out of work for an extended period of time, doesn’t own a college degree, and has little to no consistent work history.

Short Term vs. Long Term Marriages

Marriages of a short duration (defined as a marriage under 10 years) are easier to deal with because spousal support typically will not last for longer than half the duration of the marriage. Since a stay at home mom’s income may affect child and spousal support, the mother has to eventually work. If an opportunity presents itself early on, you’ll want to consider that opportunity. Long term marriages (marriages of 10+ years) do make the issue more complicated but, again, it becomes a matter of specifics associated with the case.

Bottom line

If you have the opportunity and ability to earn income, and doing so will not have a significant impact on your care of your children (assuming they are healthy and do not require special care), the answer is yes.

Learn about the steps you'll take during separation and avoid mistakes along the way. Be better prepared to start (or finish) your divorce with tailored info from attorney, Cristin Lowe.

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