Every divorce has its complications, but some cases may require spouses to address complex financial issues and other concerns that may affect them and their children. In some cases, one spouse may have been primarily responsible for caring for the couple’s children and managing the household, and they may not currently work full-time. A stay-at-home parent may focus on family responsibilities, and the other parent may be primarily responsible for earning the income needed to cover family expenses.
In these situations, the end of a marriage can bring significant changes and uncertainties. A couple will need to resolve a number of legal and financial concerns, while also making decisions about how they will share custody of their children. For both stay-at-home parents and spouses who work full-time, an attorney can provide guidance and legal representation to make sure their interests will be protected during the divorce process.
The Financial Impact of Divorce on Stay-at-Home Parents
Some of the most immediate concerns for stay-at-home parents facing divorce will be related to financial matters. Without their partner's income to rely on, a parent who does not work full-time may suddenly find themselves without a source of financial support. This can be especially daunting for a person who has been out of the workforce for an extended period. They may worry about whether they will need to return to work and how they can make sure their children’s ongoing needs will be met, and they may also be concerned about their ability to support themselves without recent work experience.
In many cases, family court judges will seek to preserve the status quo for a family and avoid major changes that could cause distress for children. Arrangements may be made that will allow a stay-at-home parent to continue serving in that role while making a gradual transition to working and supporting themselves. This may be facilitated by dividing property in a way that provides a stay-at-home parent with the necessary financial resources, while also requiring the other spouse to pay ongoing financial support.
While Illinois law requires an equitable division of marital property, in cases involving stay-at-home parents, “equitable” may mean that a parent with limited financial income will receive a larger share of marital property. For example, they may retain ownership of the couple’s home and various household items, as well as funds that will allow them to pursue education and eventual employment. A stay-at-home parent may also receive spousal support payments that will address their ongoing needs as they care for their children and take steps to become self-supporting.
Addressing Child Custody Concerns
Child custody arrangements will be another significant concern for stay-at-home parents and their spouses. A parent who has been the primary caregiver and has spent more time with their children may be concerned about how to ensure that their children can continue living with them the majority of the time.
Illinois courts prioritize the best interests of children when making decisions about child custody. The court may consider various factors, including:
The child's relationship with each parent
The child's adjustment to their home, school, and community
Each parent's ability to provide for the child's physical, emotional, and educational needs
The parents’ willingness to cooperate to make decisions related to their children
Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse by either parent
As mentioned above, courts will often attempt to put arrangements in place that are similar to the ways spouses handled parental duties during their marriage. They will also encourage parents to cooperate with each other and work together to reach agreements on child-related issues. Ideally, parents will be able to negotiate a parenting plan or parenting agreement that will detail how they will share parental responsibilities (legal custody) and when children will spend parenting time with each parent. This can ensure that parents can avoid disruptions to their children’s lives while also transitioning to new arrangements where children will be able to spend quality time with both parents.
Contact Our Kane County Divorce Lawyers for Stay-at-Home Parents
If you are a stay-at-home parent facing divorce in Illinois, or if your spouse is a stay-at-home parent, Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC can work with you to make sure divorce-related issues will be addressed correctly. Our St. Charles divorce attorneys will work with you to address and resolve issues involving finances and child custody, helping you complete the divorce process successfully while protecting your children’s best interests. Contact us at 630-665-7300 to set up a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you as you legally dissolve your marriage.