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Divorce, Finances, and Stay-at-Home Parents


Stay-at-home dads comprise 16 percent of the stay-at-home parent population whereas mothers comprise the other 84 percent. And, while statistics continue to evolve, one thing is certain: any stay-at-home parent faces potential financial difficulty after divorce.

In most stay-at-home parent arrangements, one spouse is the sole breadwinner and the other remains at home to care for the children. As you can imagine, this leads to disparate income gaps amongst parents and, upon divorce, the stay-at-home spouse feeling pressed for financial stability.

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Why stay-at-home parents often encounter financial difficulties;
  • How to protect your finances during and after your divorce;
  • Steps you should take for financial stability following the end of your divorce

Why Stay-at-Home Parents are Prone to Financial Struggle

There are many reasons why stay-at-home parents are particularly likely to face financial difficulties after divorce. You can likely guess some of these reasons as well:

  1. Lapse in Employment – Even if you were working at one time, it’s likely that you’ve been out of the workforce for a number of years. Some individuals who get divorced after 10- or 15-year marriages haven’t worked for the same amount of time, which can make it difficult to secure a similar job you once had.
  2. Minimal Retirement Savings – Because holding a well-paying job is often the reason many have retirement savings, you may find yourself with little to no security for the future. This puts further pressure on you to secure a well-paying job and begin saving, even if it’s years after you would have begun without relying on your spouse’s income.
  3. Current Lifestyle – If you’re a stay-at-home parent and have been relying on your spouse’s income for years, you’ve become accustomed to the lifestyle that the income produces. As such, creating a budget and better understanding what you need to make end’s meet is a better way to approach finances after your divorce.

How to Protect Finances During Divorce

Recognizing that you may need assistance during your DuPage, Kane, Kendall, or Will County divorce is essential. Relatedly, a Naperville divorce attorney is the simplest way to ensure your interests are protected. In fact, an attorney is the only way to protect your financial interests in divorce because he will:

  • Pay Attorney’s Fees – If your spouse makes money, he or she is almost certain to hire an attorney to represent his or her interests in the case. If you don’t have the money to hire your own attorney, you can request that the court pay your attorney’s fees as well, though you aren’t guaranteed to receive this support.
  • Request Temporary ReliefTemporary child support and maintenance is a simple way for the court to provide financial relief as your divorce is pending. Note that not all courts grant temporary relief but if you’re in a pressing situation without access to money, you’re likely to receive some type of support until your final judgment is entered.
  • Guarantee Fair Property DivisionProperty division includes the division of your home, personal property, bank accounts, and retirement savings. With an attorney negotiating on your behalf, you’ll be protected and guaranteed an equitable division with your spouse.

Moreover, your attorney will secure adequate Illinois child support and maintenance, if appropriate. Both forms of support are based on your former spouse’s income and soon, child support calculations will also account for your income. As such, you are guaranteed a more accurate division of assets.

Not All Support Lasts – So What Do You Do?

While child support will remain in effect until each child turns 18, maintenance doesn’t always last for an extended period of time.

Your maintenance award will be in effect according to a formula that accounts for the length of your marriage. For example, if you were married between 5 and 10 years, the length of your maintenance award will be the number of exact years multiplied by 40%. For example, 7 x 0.4 for a duration of 2.8 years.

The reasoning behind proceeding this way is simple: maintenance rarely lasts forever (unless you’ve been married for 20 or more years). As such, maintenance is supposed to offer temporary relief that gives you time to get the necessary training you may need to be qualified for your job once again.

This means you should never approach divorce as a permanent solution to your financial problems. While you can count on child support for an extended period of time, it’s up to you to find a substitute for maintenance during the time you’re receiving it from your spouse.

This isn’t to say that you must return to the job you once held before you were a parent either. The maintenance period is designed to help you find any sort of adequate work you find and as such, you should find a job you’ll enjoy for years to come.

Protect Your Financial Future by Being Proactive

Many stay-at-home parents have a difficult time transitioning back to the workforce. However, divorce is a time of transition and as such, it’s best to embrace the opportunity to once again perform a job you enjoyed at one point while receiving some financial support from your former spouse to get back on your feet.

Too many spouses are accustomed to staying at home with their children and refuse to look for work in the beginning of their maintenance period. But it’s best to begin looking for a job early to ensure that by the time you no longer receive maintenance, you don’t have a lot of pressure on yourself to find a job when you haven’t worked for a number of years.

If you’re concerned about your financial future as a stay-at-home parent facing divorce, Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. can help. We have over 35 years of experience in divorce and family law and welcome the opportunity to use our expertise to provide guidance and support during your divorce.

Take advantage of your 30-minute, free consultation by calling Larry at 630-470-9990 or filling in our simple online form. We look forward to speaking with you and answering any questions you may have about child support, maintenance, or how both processes work after your divorce is finalized.

Concentrated on Family Law

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

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About Attorney Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd.

Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd. is a law firm concentrating solely on family law and has served clients in DuPage, Will, Kane, and Kendall counties for over 35 years.

We continue to work with clients in Naperville, Wheaton, Lisle, Oswego, Downers Grove, and the surrounding areas to provide one-on-one support and attention that will help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to offering our expertise and support to you throughout your case and after.