Should Stay-at-Home Parents Expect Maintenance After Divorce?

While less common than in previous generations, there are still thousands—if not tens of thousands—of parents who do not work a traditional job, instead choosing to stay at home with their children. For these stay-at-home parents—primarily moms, if we are being honest—the prospect of a divorce can be incredibly frightening and overwhelming. Many stay-at-home parents have been out of the workforce for many years, and establishing financial independence after divorce may seem completely impossible. While help may be available in the form of spousal maintenance, sometimes called alimony, not everyone will be awarded maintenance so it may be best to develop a plan for moving forward without it.

Considerations Under Illinois Law

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a long list of factors that a court must take into account when deciding whether to award maintenance in a divorce, several of which are of particular interest to a stay-at-home parent, including:

  • Each spouse’s income and resources;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • The contributions of a stay-at-home parent to the marriage, family, and the career of the other spouse; and
  • The ability of the stay-at-home parent to prepare for and find sustainable employment.

There is no set formula for balancing all of the relevant considerations, but it would seem that a spouse who has earned nothing of her own for years while maintaining the home, raising the children, and supporting her husband’s career would be an ideal candidate for receiving maintenance.

Alimony Not Guaranteed

Because such considerations are often very subjective, there no way guarantee a maintenance award unless the spouses have included such provisions in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Some legal commentators have even gone so far as to suggest that the trend has turned against the awarding of alimony to stay-at-home parents. They claim to have seen evidence that family courts believe that women have as much opportunity for earning income as men, even women who have been at home for many years. Some family law attorneys also report stay-at-home moms being scolded in court for not looking for work once their marriage has ended.

Get the Guidance You Need

If you are a stay-at-home parent facing the possibility of divorce, it is important to begin exploring your available options quickly. An experienced Orland Park family law attorney can help you avoid unpleasant surprises along the way. Call 708-518-8200 for a free, no-obligation consultation with Kezy & Associates today.