The news struck you like a punch in the stomach. Your spouse has decided your marriage is unsalvageable and wants out. As a stay-at-home parent, you worry.
The panic may briefly surface, the confusion sets in, and you find yourself at a crossroads. But you have no other choice than to confront this situation, which also proves to be an opportunity.
The right attorney, low-conflict divorce and the future
Perhaps you had put your career on hold to raise your family, allowing your spouse to be the sole income earner. You made many personal and professional sacrifices only to be faced with divorce.
So many concerns surface, and they include your small amount of retirement savings, alimony and your livelihood. What do you do? Here are some helpful tips for a stay-at-home parent facing divorce:
- Find the right family law attorney: Do not make decisions based on impulse and fear. You must be strategic. Turn to your trusted network of friends. Ask them for attorney references. Contact the attorneys, ask questions and gauge your comfort level with them before setting up an in-person discussion.
- Borrow money from a trusted person: In some cases, stay-at-home parents may not have access to their own money to relocate to a new home or apartment as well as pay for an attorney. But please understand that you must repay this generous loan during your time of need.
- Consider low-conflict divorce: This approach to divorce – which may include mediation as well as collaborative divorce — provides you with more control in the process. In the former, you and your estranged spouse – accompanied by your respective attorneys – meet with a mediator and negotiate on issues such as division of assets, child support, child custody and alimony. For the latter, it is just you, your spouse and your attorneys working toward an agreement. Both approaches are solid alternatives to litigation, which is costly and stressful.
- Analyze your skills and professional strengths: Doing so will provide you with a better sense of what types of jobs you can seek. Also, it is a good idea to network with friends, acquaintances and former professional colleagues. This also represents part of your plan to gain financial independence.
- Look to the future: Divorce may not have been the path that you chose, but it is here. This represents another life opportunity. You have no other choice than to adapt, change and embrace that change. In time, matters in your life will look up.
Consider taking these initial steps, which will help you gain your footing for the future.
‘Pick yourself up’
Divorce exposes the vulnerability of a stay-at-home parent. But you have no choice but to face this. And when you do, consider the lyrics from that old standard “Pick Yourself Up.” They include: “Pick yourself up, take a deep breath, dust yourself off and start all over again.” You can do it.