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Stay-At-Home Parents Can Be Vulnerable: What You Should Know

By Leslie Fineberg on June 9, 2014

The divorce attorneys at the law firm of Nottage and Ward in Chicago have run into this scenario all too often: a woman has decided to forgo a budding or successful career to stay at home, raise the children, and run the household. Suddenly, the marriage falls apart and she finds herself divorced and jobless with little or no prospects of gaining meaningful employment in the future.

Many think that family courts will protect them and that alimony payments will be commensurate with the monies they may have earned after giving up their careers. According to Forbes, many of these women are in for a shock. Often judges, including female judges who had to make sacrifices in their own family lives to pursue their careers, are not sympathetic to the Stay-At-Home-Mom (SAHM) plight.

These women (and, increasingly men) may assume that they will receive alimony covering full support, but with the advent of alimony reform laws in many states those expectations may simply be unrealistic. Permanent alimony is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. We are living in an age where “rehabilitative” or “temporary” alimony is becoming the norm. These alimony judgments only stay in place until the affected spouse gets back on his or her feet and can rejoin the workforce.

What frequently happens is that SAHMs will hurriedly look for full-time work and end up taking jobs that may be far below their education and skill sets. Oft-times, they will find themselves cut off from medical insurance benefits because those benefits were covered under the other spouse’s employer.

So, what can Stay-At-Home-Moms (or Dads) do to avoid being caught in this trap?

Experts suggest that a spouse in this situation should try to keep at least one foot planted firmly in the employment door. They suggest doing part-time or freelance work and maintaining contacts in the adult professional world that may provide some buffer should they find themselves getting divorced.

It is also extremely important that you establish a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement if you are thinking of giving up a career to be a stay-at-home-parent. Assuring that you are legally and financially protected in event of a divorce is essential in these days of malleable alimony laws.

Giving up a career to take care of children and the household is rewarding and can be the right thing to do in your situation. However, it is always wise to protect yourself just in case your marriage does dissolve. If you have questions concerning prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, call Nottage & Ward in Chicago at (312) 332-2915. We are here to help.

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