Spousal maintenance for stay-at-home parents

On behalf of Lake Toback Attorneys

It is the desire for many couples to have one spouse stay home when kids enter the picture. This used to be the mother’s primary role, but more men are entering stay-at-home parent status as well. The upside to this is granting a sense of security to children by always having a parent there to meet their needs, but the downside to this is one parent leaving the workforce and falling behind on necessary skills to their trade. While the benefits most often outweigh the negatives, when a couple divorces, this could make it harder for the once-stay-at-home parent to rejoin the workforce and make a decent living wage. Situations like this may have Illinois couples wondering what their spousal maintenance options are.

Spousal maintenance — also often referred to as alimony — can certainly be granted to help a spouse who hasn’t been the primary breadwinner get started on his or her new life. There are three types of maintenance recognized in Illinois, including permanent maintenance, temporary maintenance and rehabilitative maintenance. While each has its own set of circumstances to qualify for — including the length of the marriage and one’s age — the goal of each is relatively the same, to allow the once dependent spouse to become self-supportive.

For young couples who chose to have one parent leave the workforce, there are steps that could be considered to protect the spouse who will be staying home. If a prenuptial agreement was never considered before the marriage, a postnuptial agreement can set specific provisions to financially protect a stay-at-home parent should the marriage end in divorce. These provisions could include specifics regarding alimony payments, including amounts and the duration of payments.

The ability to finance life after divorce is a valid concern for many stay-at-home parents considering divorce. The use of pre or postnuptial agreements can certainly help in taking the financial risk out of choosing to leave the workforce to care for children. Even if both of these documents are overlooked, it is still possible to be granted spousal maintenance in Illinois, which could ease some of the financial worries that divorce can bring.

Source: Forbes, “Deciding To Become A Stay-At-Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale“, Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014

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Spousal maintenance for stay-at-home parents