Dec 20, 2023 | Divorce,  Family Law,  

Stay-at-Home Moms & Divorce: The Basics

If your spouse is the breadwinner of your family, you may feel trapped in your marriage without a clear way out.  As a stay-at-home mom, you might not know what you need to put together while preparing for a divorce.

You can prepare for success by using the checklist below, which explains what steps you can take to ease the pressure you face and secure your family’s well-being.

The Pre-Divorce Checklist

Before you file for a divorce, you should take the necessary steps to prepare for one. Having all the details available can simplify your divorce timeline and bring you greater peace of mind.

Collect Your Financial and Personal Records

Several decisions made during the divorce process rely on financial records. You’ll need proof of your family’s finances, especially if you seek child or spousal support. Critical documents include:

  • Financial statements which are anything submitted or received from a bank or lending institution. Statements could provide clear ideas of net worth, balance sheets, profit-loss statements, or cash flow.
  • Monthly bills including utility, internet, or tax bills. These can help calculate your household’s monthly expenses or accrued debt.
  • Income tax returns are forms sent from or to the Internal Revenue Service. You should compile federal, state, or local tax returns, especially if there’s a business involved.
  • Income statements such as pay stubs or brokerage records are critical to show what your household’s typical income is. You might have part-time income as a stay-at-home mom, but you’re trying to show that your partner makes more than you.
  • Retirement account statements can show you may be entitled to part of your spouse’s retirement plan’s assets.

These are the basic items you should look for when you start planning a divorce. However, if can’t find some of these items, don’t have access to accounts, or otherwise have difficulty compiling these documents, don’t worry! Your lawyer can find and gain access to them later in the process – even if they’re hidden.

Other Essential Documents in a Divorce

Before you file for divorce, you should also gather copies of a few other documents. Obtain your own medical records, your children’s, and their academic records.

You should also consider getting records of your partner’s internet history or text history between the two of you, especially if you believe they may have had an affair or there may be other evidence of wrongdoing. If you believe them to be necessary for your case, audio recordings of conversations between you and your spouse are also legal for you to gather.

Finally, search for anything related to your current estate plans. That includes wills, living wills, your power of attorney, and any relevant trusts.

Protect Yourself and Find a Lawyer

When you decide it’s time to end your marriage, you should take steps to protect yourself. When you gather the necessary documents and search for an attorney, you should use a private browser window, erase your browser history, and find ways to message potential lawyers discreetly. You should create a new e-mail account that your partner doesn’t know about. Discuss any privacy and safety concerns with attorneys.

Decide How to End Your Marriage

Before hiring a lawyer, you should consider how you want to end your marriage. Your income may be limited, and a drawn-out divorce can drain your resources, especially if you have children or other expenses.

Talk to a lawyer about what method to end your marriage makes most sense for you: uncontested divorce, divorce through mediation, or contested divorce. Your experienced lawyer should care about your concerns and find you the best fit.

Creating a Parenting Plan: Custody & Support

When you’re preparing your divorce, you should consider where and how your family will live. If you have children, your attorney will draft a parenting plan if you intend to share custody. You may also need to examine support options, like child or spousal support, to determine if that’s something you’ll qualify for. Your attorney can help you calculate what’s possible.

Prepare to Rejoin the Workforce

While alimony may be an option for you, depending on your circumstances, it may only be available temporarily. If you intend to go back to work, you’ll need to examine what you’ll need to get back into the workforce, especially if you haven’t worked in a while.

You can look at your skills, work experience, and expenses to determine what jobs you should seek and if you need more training so you can support your family. Temporary support may also be available to you to take classes or otherwise get up to speed to rejoin the workforce. That said, going back to work may not always be necessary, depending on your situation. Make sure you talk to an experienced attorney about your options.

Things to Remember After the Divorce

There will be issues you don’t need to have settled before your divorce decree is finalized, but they should be on your list of priorities.

  • Update your estate plans: Your partner may be listed in your will or as your Power of Attorney. Find a replacement when you can.
  • Open New Bank Accounts: If you didn’t already have a separate account, you should open one. You can start saving money there, and you’ll have more freedom.
  • Budget your new way of life: A divorce can bring huge changes to your life. A budget can allow you to calculate your needs. It can provide a new perspective on changes you might need to make with your spending, housing, or other expenses. An attorney can help you calculate your expenses and fight for support from your soon-to-be ex.

Call a Marietta Divorce Lawyer Today

As you prepare for your divorce, you should do so with all the information available. Researching on your own is a great start, but finding a divorce lawyer who understands the struggles stay-at-home mothers face and can speak to your unique situation is crucial to getting you the best outcome.

At the Gentry Law Firm, LLC, we know how stressful a divorce can be. As a stay-at-home mom, you have a unique perspective on divorce. Let us help you prepare for your divorce so you can provide for your children and secure your family’s future. We’re ready to hear your story. We can answer your divorce questions.

Call (770) 425-5573 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation.