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Stay-at-home parents: understanding your finances when divorcing

Stress over money is a major part of any divorce. You will have to start paying for housing and expenses out of one paycheck instead of two. And if you stayed home to take care of the kids during marriage, you may not immediately find a job with good pay.

These worries can prevent a stay-at-home parent from going through with divorce. This mostly affects women who stay home to take care of kids while their spouses brings home the income. To leave a marriage that is toxic or broken, it is important for the non-working spouse to know their finances, plan for the financial realities of divorce, and understand the resources they may have access to under the law.

The cost of divorce

A typical New Jersey divorce costs $15,000 in legal fees, court filings and any expenses around the proceedings. And that is a straightforward divorce without children or complex assets. Contested proceedings over child custody or property can jack up the legal costs.

You also need to prepare for the costs after a divorce. If you have to find your own house or apartment, that will require a down payment and rent. And you will now be solely responsible for any bills that used to be shared, like a car loan or cell phone bill.

On top of that, if you retain custody of your children, you will need money to provide for them. The most recent data from the US Department of Agriculture shows that it costs an average of $233,610 to raise a child from birth to 17 years old. And if you are now working to pay the bills, you will have an additional daycare cost as well.

Planning your finances in a divorce

However, this cost should not deter you from divorcing. A recent survey of divorced women found that 73% of them were glad they divorced. Even if the divorce made them financially worse off, they were still happy to be out of a bad marriage. So how can you make sure that being a stay-at-home parent will not prevent you from divorcing?

  • Have a financial plan – When you prepare for your divorce, make sure that you have a good idea what your expenses and income will be. A financial planner can help you build a plan.
  • Be aware of your current finances – Knowing the finances in your marriage can help you get a fair split. You should be aware of the bills, income and assets in your marriage. This can prevent your spouse from hiding an extra income or an unknown asset from you.
  • Hire an attorney – If you are not the breadwinner, you may be entitled to alimony from your spouse, at least short-term. The court can also order the high-earning spouse to subsidize the attorney fees for a stay-at-home spouse who lacks the financial means to pay a lawyer. A good attorney can make sure that your former spouse pays a fair level of child support, along with an equitable share of your marital assets.

If you are unhappy in your marriage, financial stress about the future or feeling financially trapped should not prevent you from seeking a divorce.

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The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh, L.L.C.

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Somerville, NJ 08876

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