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Stay-at-home spouses face unique and sometimes terrifying challenges when faced with divorce. Emotional struggles are often paired with feelings of despair over their lack of financial independence – an independence that was likely surrendered earlier in the marriage to provide at-home support for a spouse or children. Although divorce can be overwhelming, with a little strategic planning, a stay-at-home spouse can build a life on solid footing after divorce.
Take an Honest Look at Finances
When couples decide that one spouse will stay home to care for children or loved ones, considerations for what would happen in the event of the divorce are unlikely at the forefront of the conversation. With a divorce looming, the stay-at-home spouse is now faced with the challenge of financially supporting himself or herself, and possibly children, after being out of the workforce for years. It is important for a stay-at-home spouse to take a hard, honest look at his or her financial future without the other spouse.
If a look at monthly income and expenses reveals an extremely tight budget or the improbability of meeting ends meet, it may be time to consider adjusting spending habits or increasing income. Creating and updating a financial record will help stay-at-home spouses and their attorneys understand the financial situation and create an effective financial plan:
Create a Financial Plan
After reviewing financial documents, an attorney can offer assistance in creating a financial plan. Although an attorney’s job is to protect a client’s interests and rights during the divorce, he or she can also assist in advising clients how to become financially independent after the divorce.
Everyone’s financial plan will be unique. Some may include a request for alimony and child support. It may be in a stay-at-home spouse’s best interest to obtain employment or go back to school for professional training and education. A financial plan may also include cutting back on certain expenses. The planning process can help gauge what life will look like after a divorce and in the years to come.
Patience is Key
Everyone who goes through a divorce experiences change. For a stay-at-home spouse, those changes can seem insurmountable. The key to success is to plan carefully and thoroughly, seek the advice of experienced counsel, and above everything else – be patient and honest with yourself.