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For Moms Facing a Divorce

In God's Word , we are directed to honor marriage, protect marriage, and preserve marriage. So at The Kids & Me, we would absolutely except in cases of abuse or infidelity counsel married couples to work on their relationship and seek guidance to keep the family intact. That being said, life circumstances will at times bring us to places we never imagined being. There could be a mom among us facing divorce.

This advice is for her taken verbatim from the website of the O'Mara Law Group in Florida.


Stay-at-Home Mom's Guide to Divorce

Divorce is a tough journey for everyone, but it can be particularly vexing for stay-at-home moms. Often, stay-at-home parents have given up their careers to care for their children and allow their spouses to continue on a career path. Now, they face the challenge of rebuilding their lives and providing for themselves and their children.

While it may seem like an arduous path forward, planning ahead can help you confidently overcome challenges.

Financial Preparation for Divorce

Preparing financially for possible road bumps will help you navigate those tough times.  Gather the necessary paperwork that might help you assess your financial situation, including the following:

  • Financial records, including bank statements and loan information

  • Debt records, such as credit card and loan statements

  • Children's bank accounts

  • Employment records

  • Income tax returns

  • Investment account statements

  • Paycheck stubs and W-2 forms

  • Pension information

  • Retirement savings accounts

  • Social Security statements

  • Wills and trust agreements

The court may require you to fill out a financial disclosure form or net worth statement to better understand your current finances. Your legal team will need a list of your assets, such as:

  • Bank accounts

  • Properties

  • Investments

  • Vehicles

  • Personal belongings

Additionally, identify any debts or liabilities, ranging from the current mortgage to outstanding credit card balances. 

Managing Finances After Divorce

For stay-at-home moms, managing finances after a divorce can be hard. Moving from a dual-income to a single-income household requires careful planning. These tips can help you adapt to a post-divorce life:

  • Create a budget: Establishing a budget helps you understand your income and expenses. You must consider your new financial situation, including child support or alimony payments. Track your spending and adjust your budget to ensure you live within your financial means.

  • Build an emergency fund: Savings can provide peace of mind and help cover unexpected expenses or emergencies, so your financial stability stays on track. Save three to six months of living expenses in your emergency fund.

  • Review and adjust insurance coverage: After a divorce, you should review your coverage for health, life, and disability insurance. Ensure you and your children have adequate coverage and update beneficiaries as needed.

  • Understand child support and alimony: Child support and alimony are crucial to your financial stability as a stay-at-home mom. Child support covers the costs of raising children. On the other hand, alimony, or spousal support, helps you maintain a reasonable standard of living post-divorce. 

Before signing off on any document, familiarize yourself with the laws and guidelines in your jurisdiction. By working with your family law attorney, you can ensure the calculations accurately reflect your financial needs and advocate for your rights.

Legal Rights

Divorcing stay-at-home moms have legal rights that they must protect. Without help from a qualified attorney, you could get stuck with low support payments or unfavorable custody arrangements. These rights include the following: 

  • Child custody: When factoring in child custody, the court considers the child's best interests the top priority. If a stay-at-home mom has been the primary caregiver and can show evidence of providing a stable and nurturing environment for the children, she may have an advantage in obtaining primary physical custody. 

  • Child support: When stay-at-home moms receive primary physical custody of their children, they are typically entitled to child support from the non-custodial parent. This financial support guarantees that the children's needs are met by covering housing, education, health care, and overall welfare expenses.

  • Spousal support: Courts frequently grant alimony when there is a notable disparity in earning capacity or financial resources between spouses. Its purpose is to give the dependent spouse financial support, ensuring they can maintain a similar standard of living after the divorce.

  • Property division: While laws between states may differ, marital property, which includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, is subject to equitable property distribution. Contributions made as homemakers and caregivers are considered valuable to the marriage. The court may consider this when dividing assets and debts, ensuring a fair outcome for all parties involved in the property distribution process.

Stay-at-home mothers need legal representation during divorce proceedings. Otherwise, they may lose out on child support or other entitlements from the marriage. To protect your rights, you must find a knowledgeable family law attorney who can explain the process and navigate you through these complicated legal procedures. 

Child Custody and Parenting Agreements

Stay-at-home moms who want fair child custody arrangements should educate themselves on laws in their jurisdiction and prioritize the child’s best interests. You must collaborate with your spouse on a parenting agreement that accounts for the children’s schedules and holidays. If disagreements arise, consider mediation and alternative dispute resolution methods.

Support for Children

As a stay-at-home mom, you play an integral role in helping your children cope with the emotional challenges of divorce.

When discussing your divorce with your children, you must create a safe space for them to express their feelings. Children process many emotions during divorce, so allow them to safely state how they feel about the situation.

A divorce can create turmoil in the house. Often, children do not realize what is happening with their parents. Make sure to use age-appropriate language and reassure them that they are loved. Keep routines consistent and consider professional support, such as a therapist, to help them cope.

Co-parenting can lessen the adverse effects of the separation and help your children deal with the divorce. For that reason, you need to work together with your ex-spouse. Creating a negative environment will distress your children. Instead, focus on making a healthy and nurturing home for both households. Helpful tips include:

  • Communicate with the other parent about all parenting decisions to avoid surprises and disagreements.

  • While your parenting styles may vary, strive for consistency, especially concerning major decisions.

  • Your child should never be involved in arguments with the ex-spouse.

  • Above all, prioritize your children's needs.

Your children look to you for stability, reassurance, and emotional support. By creating a loving environment, encouraging open communication, and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can help your children deal with the challenges of divorce.

Emotional Support for Stay-at-Home Moms After a Divorce

Going through a divorce creates stress for all parties. Stay-at-home mothers may feel like they have a bigger burden placed on their shoulders, especially regarding finances and child care. By addressing your emotional well-being, you can minimize negative side effects. Strategies to help cope with the emotional impact include the following:

Practice Self-Care

While it is important to prioritize your children, it is equally important to take care of yourself. Take time to engage in activities that bring you happiness and relaxation. A few examples include:

  • Exercising to stay healthy

  • Meditating to calm your mind

  • Pursuing fun hobbies that you enjoy

  • Spending time in nature to recharge

You need a little self-care to boost your mental health and get a break from your daily work as a stay-at-home mom.

Find Support

As a stay-at-home mom, you may feel a little isolated. Connect with others who can understand your experiences and share their insights to provide support. You may want to contact friends, family, or support groups. They can provide a listening ear when you need it.

If you want to find other stay-at-home moms in a similar situation, search online forums, support groups, or local community organizations to help you connect. Having a support system that acts as a secure place to express your emotions and experiences is important.

Consider Professional Counseling or Therapy

If you struggle to cope with the intense emotions of divorce, consider seeking professional counseling or therapy. A therapist can offer valuable guidance and support to help you process your emotions and develop effective coping strategies. No matter the situation, you need a positive mindset to move forward.

Understand Your Emotions

Stay-at-home moms often experience a range of emotions, from regret to anger. Allow yourself to experience them without self-criticism. Writing in a journal can be useful if you are looking for a healthy outlet. You can reflect on your emotions and work to improve them. Acknowledgment is an important step toward healing and personal development.

When dealing with stress and other emotions, people sometimes turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. They may excessively use alcohol or drugs, for example. While these substances may seem like a release from the situation, they often cause more issues down the road. Instead, you should focus on healthy outlets such as writing, exercising, and meditating.

Rebuilding After a Divorce

After the divorce is finalized, you may want to take your life in a new direction. Now that you can look past the divorce process, take time to explore new possibilities and rebuild your life. Here are some helpful tips to take those next steps.

Rebuild Credit

Many recently divorced women may find that their credit scores are lower than expected. It could be due to poorly managed joint debts or a lack of credit history in your own name. Whatever the reason, you need to rebuild your credit score now that you’re on your own.

A low credit score can hinder your ability to rent an apartment and even impact future employment opportunities. On the other hand, a good credit score will grant you access to loans at favorable rates.

Look at Downsizing

If you are responsible for the family home, you must scrutinize the actual costs of owning and maintaining the property. You might even want to analyze the numbers to determine whether downsizing is more affordable. When looking at your finances, assess the following:

  • Cost of the mortgage

  • Taxes

  • Insurance

  • HOA or community fees

  • Utilities

  • Home's upkeep

Explore Career Options

If you’re considering returning to work or looking for an entirely new career, you may want to evaluate your interests and skills. Updating your resume can help you land another job. In addition, network with other professionals who can help you discover those new job opportunities.

During this time, you may want to learn new skills. There are plenty of opportunities for stay-at-home moms, especially with online courses or workshops. Options include:

  • Enrolling in college or vocational courses

  • Attending workshops or seminars

  • Participating in online learning platforms

While some may see divorce as an end, you can take this time to benefit from a fresh start. You might want to rediscover old interests and hobbies put on hold while you were married. Now you have the time to redefine yourself, seek personal fulfillment, and set new goals.

Start on a New Path as a Divorced Stay-at-Home Mom

After a divorce, rebuilding can feel like a long and difficult process. So many aspects of your life may need to be reevaluated and restructured. Despite the challenges, every step you take towards rebuilding is a step towards a brighter future for yourself and your children.

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