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Stay at Home Mom? Win Custody and Use Divorce Funds to Make

Stay at home moms who are getting divorced often have limited funds and little or no income which can make a custody battle intimidating. Fortunately, there are several ways women can obtain the finances they need to win custody of their children and make a fresh start.

Date:   11/30/2020 6:50:17 PM   ( 25 mon ) ... viewed 381 times

Financial Fears Stay at Home Moms Face

Many stay at home moms have been out of the workforce for quite some time. Some have put their careers on hold for their children while others suffered workplace injuries, relocated, or simply gave up their jobs. This leaves many women depending on the income of their significant other. Without a full-time job or regular income of their own, divorce is often a frightening experience. Worries surface about:


  • Whether they will be able to afford to stay in their homes

  • How they will make loan and credit card payments

  • Whether they will be able to put the kids through college

  • Rejoining the workforce

  • How they will be able to provide support for themselves and their children


To make divorce even more challenging, many stay at home moms do not have knowledge of or immediate access to the household finances. 

Preparing for Divorce

Fortunately, there are several things stay at home moms can do to get financially prepared before filing for divorce. The faster they can get their financial affairs in order, the more secure their futures could become and the better chance they have of getting custody of their children.

Getting Financial Documents Together

In the beginning stages of a divorce or when considering filing, one of the most important things moms can do is to obtain a clear picture of the marital finances. While family law attorneys and mediators will likely request this information when the petition is filed, establishing a snapshot of their finances in advance can help moms get an idea of where they stand. Financial records that should be obtained include:


  • W-2s and federal and state income tax records

  • Bank statements and information about investment accounts

  • Insurance policies

  • The spouse’s paystubs and income statements

  • Information about debts, including credit cards, loans, and mortgages


Stay at home moms who are divorcing a controlling spouse may have difficulty obtaining these documents. Once obtained, it is a good idea to keep copies of all important documents in a  safe place. 


Creating a Budget

Mortgage payments or rent, utilities, groceries, and other necessities of daily life can add up quickly, especially when they need to cover two separate households. Creating a realistic budget can help moms get a clearer picture of how much they will need to earn each month. Since alimony and child support are not guaranteed, and generally not enough to cover all the household expenses, it is a good idea for moms to have a plan in place before filing for divorce. 


Many stay at home moms consult with financial planners in the beginning stages of divorce to help them obtain a more realistic picture of their finances and plan for future goals. Additionally, a financial planner can provide the legal team with accurate information about the marital estate including the value of marital assets, debts, and the net worth of the estate. This information can help women make decisions about whether or not they need to find immediate employment outside the home, whether they should consider furthering their education, or whether they will need to find a less expensive place to live. 


Considering Income Sources when Planning for Divorce

There are several income sources that divorcing moms might consider when planning for their futures. 


  • Depending on the length of the marriage and the state in which the couple resides, the stay at home mom may be entitled to alimony. In most situations, alimony is only temporary, however, it can make a big difference when the stay at home mom is just beginning her new future. In some cases, alimony can last decades or even for life. And some moms receive lump-sum payments that can help them get a fresh start. 

  • When moms are awarded residential custody of their children, they will likely be awarded child support as well. The amount she receives will depend on a variety of factors including how many children are involved, the income of both parents, and the amount of time the children stay with each parent. The divorce attorney is a great resource when estimating how much child support payments will be, but the courts get the final say in most cases. Child support does not generally cover all of the expenses involved with providing for children, but this money can help keep stay at home moms afloat and ensure the children are provided for. 

  • Retirement funds are usually marital property. As such, a stay at home mom may be entitled to a portion of the husband’s 401k, Roth plan, or other retirement funds. When this money is paid in a lump sum payment, it can help give moms a boost when starting fresh. 

  • While some moms strive for keeping the family home after a divorce, such an expense is not always possible. Based on the new budget, moms may discover that selling the home is a more realistic option. Having an appraisal done and weighing the pros and cons of keeping the home can help divorcing couples make educated decisions. 

  • Moms should consider any settlement money that may be received, like workers’ compensation settlements or money from a personal injury claim. It is common for settlement money to be divided in a divorce, even if the payment is awarded after the divorce is finalized. 


Domicile Restriction Laws

If relocating is something a divorcing mom is considering, understanding the domicile laws in the couple’s jurisdiction is a must. In some states, if the father continues to reside in the local area, moms and their children may be required to remain in close proximity. If the father moves out of the area, however, residency restrictions are usually lifted, enabling the mom and kids to move outside of the designated area. Since the laws vary depending on the jurisdiction, consulting with the legal team to find out what to expect is a must. 


Planning to Return to Work

Depending on the ages and special needs of the children, as well as the overall financial picture, divorcing moms who have been out of the workforce for a while may need to return to work. If the mom doesn’t have much work experience or education, going back to school or obtaining some type of training can help them become more employable. Flexibility is generally a must for single moms. Taking a few classes, updating training, and freshening up their resumes can help ensure moms are ready to restart their careers. 


Returning to work can add additional expense to the monthly budget, however. Moms with young children may need to evaluate whether their income potential justifies paying for childcare. Fortunately, if the expense of child care is not justifiable, there are numerous options for working from home. 


Paying for a Divorce Attorney and a Child Custody Case

In many cases, stay at home moms are blindsided when they file for divorce with no nest egg of their own. If the husband has been the sole financial provider for an extended period of time, a safety net for the mother may not exist or may be so small that the money is barely sufficient to provide for the mom and kids, let alone a divorce. Fortunately, most divorcing women are entitled to a fair portion of the marital funds and they can use this money to help them retain a divorce attorney. Even when the providing spouse is uncooperative, divorce lawyers can often help moms get the money they need to pay legal fees and make a fresh start. 


Sometimes, however, surviving divorce as a stay at home mom means becoming financially creative. This might include:


  • Borrowing money from a trusted friend or relative

  • Budgeting wisely and getting a handle on spending

  • Cashing in old retirement accounts

  • Taking a part-time job

  • Making payment arrangements with their divorce attorneys

  • Selling valuable items that are not marital property


Additionally, the family law attorney may be able to help divorcing moms obtain temporary support from the father to help keep them afloat until the divorce is finalized. Depending on the jurisdiction, stay at home moms may be awarded temporary spousal support, temporary child support, or both.


In 2017, approximately 9.5 million single parents in America were women. Of those, about 757,381 were stay at home moms who were divorced. For some of those single mothers, transitioning into their new roles was fairly simple. For others, however, it took years for the divorce to finalize and everything to fall into place. Getting prepared for divorce in advance, taking proactive steps to become self-supporting, employing a strong legal team, and keeping an eye on the future has helped hundreds of thousands of divorcing stay at home moms succeed.


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