Many stay-at-home mothers are worried that they will struggle to make it on their own if they divorce. The best way to understand how you will be impacted financially is to talk to a divorce attorney. She can look at your specific situation and let you know what to expect and how to best prepare.
One question that I hear a lot is: should I get a job now? Here are a few ways to prepare to be self-sufficient.
Before the Divorce
Assess your skillset.
Do you have a college degree? Vocational training? If so, you can brush up on your industry now, so you are ready to enter the job market. If not, think about what field you’d like to enter and how to acquire the necessary skills. Then start working toward that goal.
In some cases, you may be able to get rehabilitative alimony. Essentially, your ex-spouse would be required to support you as you pursue educational or vocational training that would allow you to find employment. This is typically only rewarded in situations where you currently lack employable skills. To understand your situation, contact your lawyer.
Find a local career counselor.
In particular, look for someone who focuses on helping women who are re-enter the job market. This will help you give you more confidence to navigate any challenges ahead, such as dealing with a gap in your resume or answering job interview questions.
Start searching for employment.
If you can get a job before your divorce proceedings even start, that’s great! You’ll not only build your own confidence in your ability to be self-sufficient, but you’ll also be building a credit and work history, even if it’s just for a short period, such as 3-6 months.
Understand what alimony you can expect.
There are many types of alimony awarded, and it can be awarded for just a few months to help you “bridge the gap” or permanently. How much is awarded will depend on the length of your marriage and a number of other factors.
As mentioned above, rehabilitative alimony is a specific type of alimony that would require your spouse to support you as you seek educational or vocational training necessary to become self-sufficient. If you are not awarded this type of alimony, you can still try to negotiate receiving your divorce settlement in cash up front instead of at a later date.
This can help you seek education or training, or even just allow you to wait until the right job comes along.
Don’t plan to rely on alimony and child support.
Even if you are awarded permanent alimony, you want to find other means to support yourself. If your ex-spouse passes away, you won’t have that income anymore, and you may now have no rights to get money from the estate.
Consider a requirement in your divorce settlement that your ex-spouse must maintain life insurance as a way to ensure you continue receiving payments.
Meet with a financial advisor.
This is especially valuable if you have been leaving the finances to your spouse. A financial advisor can help you better understand how your standard of living will be impacted before you make the divorce final.
After the Divorce
Make a budget.
Once the divorce proceedings are over, nothing is theoretical anymore. It’s all there in black and white, so you can start formulating a plan for your future.
Again, the financial advisor can come in handy. Ask for guidance on how to ensure you are following the budget you set.
You Can Do This
I’ve seen many stay-at-home mothers who feel uncertain about their ability to enter the work force (maybe for the first time ever!) and become self-sufficient. If that’s your current frame of mind, make a list of all the skills you have needed to be a successful stay-at-home mother: organization, patience, multi-tasking… Get it all down on paper.
You already have a skill-set. You have already faced and surmounted challenges. This is just the next stage of your life. And if you can handle the tough job of motherhood, you are up for this new challenge, too.