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Challenges faced by divorcing stay-at-home spouses

The decision to divorce brings about profound changes in both people's lives. Experts are quick to point out that one of the most long-lasting changes and challenges of divorce, especially for spouses who have not worked outside the home, is the financial one.

As many divorce people in Texas know, when a marriage comes to an end, property division is necessary. For a spouse who has spent the years of a marriage raising a family, working inside the home rather than pursuing an outside career, finding solid financial footing can be challenging.

Divorce frequently creates a situation that affects the quality of lifestyles for both spouses. The income that once supported a single home must be divided and stretched through agreements for child support and alimony.

Spouses who have been in stay-at-home situations through marriage may have to prepare for a new life that includes educational expenses in order to reenter the work force.

Attorneys say it is critical to understand the state of marital finances even before the divorce process begins. Knowing what assets and debts exist and having copies of pertinent documents are essential. That includes information about assets with future benefits like retirement accounts, stock portfolios and insurances.

A financial advisor and divorce attorney can work together to help determine the total value and expenses related to marital property. A post-divorce budget can be designed to project accurately what a lifestyle beyond marriage will cost.

Alimony may be an option for spouses who have not earned an income during marriage. State laws detail the amount and length of spousal support possible and the conditions under which it is paid.

Child support is often required to be paid by the noncustodial parent. States often base child support payments on a spouse's income, which does not always take care of all monetary obligations for a child but can still be very helpful in covering costs.

Understanding the scope of marital assets and liabilities and plotting a course for life after divorce are the keys to a smoother financial transition. Taking advantage of the resources and knowledge of legal and financial experts as early as possible is often a good way to get a head start on planning.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorce and the Stay-At-Home Mom," Thomas Greenwald, Nov. 21, 2011

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