Divorce as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Divorce as a stay-at-home mom can be daunting. You have important rights. Also, there are things you should know as you prepare for the divorce process.

Our family law attorney at Remington & Dixon, PLLC explains divorce as a stay-at-home mom.

10 Things to Know About Divorce as a Stay-at-Home Mom

     1. You have the right to seek child support and alimony.

Under North Carolina divorce law, a dependent spouse is entitled to alimony. The law says that the court shall award alimony upon a finding that a spouse is dependent and that the other spouse is a supporting spouse. (N.C.G.S. § 50-16.3A(a), with an exception for a spouse who participated in illicit sexual behavior during the marriage).

You also have the right to child support for minor children in your custody. It is the children who have this right. They have the right to financial support from both parents. The court uses a formula based on the gross income of the parents and the time they spend with the children.

Child support continues until a child is 18 or 20 and still in high school. (N.C.G.S. § 50-13.4).

     2. You may seek temporary orders for child support and alimony.

Just having the right to seek alimony and child support likely doesn’t ease your concerns – you need financial help now! You can ask the court to award post-separation support while your divorce is pending. You must ask the court for an award with a verified pleading, motion, or affidavit. (N.C.G.S. § 50-16.2A).

     3. Your years as a stay-at-home mom factor into an alimony award.

North Carolina divorce law lists some of the factors the court considers when it decides alimony.

Among those factors is the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker. N.C.G.S. § 50-16.3A(b)(12). Other relevant factors are the duration of the marriage and the standard of living during marriage.

     4. Depending on the circumstances, you’ll need a plan for independence.

Even though the court can award permanent alimony, it’s rare. Usually, alimony is for a fixed duration or is left open to modification. The court will give you time to find work or pursue an education, if necessary.

However, if you’re physically able to work and not approaching retirement age, the court is likely to look at alimony as a support for your transition, rather than as a permanent solution. At your consultation, you can discuss what kind of alimony award may be available in your case.

     5. Your role as primary caregiver matters in a custody determination, but it is not final.

A custody order should reflect the best interests and welfare of the child. The court takes many things into account when evaluating custody, including each parent’s relationship with the child and the ability of a parent to provide a stable home environment. If a parent has been serving as a stay-at-home mom, their role in the home is strong evidence in their favor. (N.C.G.S. § 50-13.2; In re the Custody of Peal, 305 N.C. 640 (1982)).

There is no gender preference in a custody determination. Being a stay-at-home mom is an important factor in a custody determination, but it is just one factor. It is important to work with your attorney to build evidence and arguments for the appropriate custody award.

     6. Some visitation is ordered in most cases.

Unless there are compelling reasons, the court is likely to order at least some visitation to the other parent. Even if the parent had little involvement until now, the court usually orders at least minimal time with both parents. The court may place conditions on the visitation and specify travel arrangements.

As your attorney, we explore options for a custody and visitation plan. Then, we support your case with evidence and legal arguments.

     7. Discovery can help you learn about family finances.

Many stay-at-home moms are kept in the dark about family finances. You may not know what assets you have. Your spouse may be trying to hide accounts.

North Carolina Civil Court Rule 26 allows you to obtain discovery. Your spouse must submit a financial disclosure statement. These measures help you paint a complete financial picture and seek the property division afforded to you by law.

     8. Those are your assets, too!

When you’re the stay-at-home mom, the other spouse may say that because they earned assets for your family, those assets are theirs to keep. Legally, that isn’t true. What is earned by either party during the marriage is marital property. There are some exceptions for pre-marital property and inheritances.

The division of the marital estate is to be equitable, but that does not mean it is always equal.

The court will consider all the circumstances when making a distribution.

     9. The court may order your attorney fees paid.

You may know how important it is to have a lawyer when you’re going through a divorce as a stay-at-home mom, but you may think that you can’t afford it. Under N.C.G.S. § 50-13.6, the court can order one spouse to reimburse the reasonable attorney’s fees paid by the other spouse. You can ask the court to award legal fees for your representation.

     10. You can – and should – have your attorney.

When you are going through a divorce as a stay-at-home mom, it’s especially important to have an attorney.

At Remington & Dixon, we represent stay-at-home moms in divorce proceedings. We invite you to contact us in Charlotte, NC at 704-247-7110 or online about your case.


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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