A stay-at-home parent is in a unique position and therefore must consider special planning to ensure they successfully transition through divorce. While divorce is never easy, the stay-at-home parent can help minimize the emotional and financial impact that divorce will have upon the parties, their children and their finances.
Step One: Understand Your Finances
I often find that the stay-at-home parent is either the “chief financial officer” of the family, and is responsible for managing the family budget, or is so far cut-out of the family finances that they can’t identify their day-to-day expenses, list all the financial institutions used by the family, or otherwise describe how the family finances operate.
Regardless of your position, you should invest a considerable amount of time investigating your financial position and gathering the following records as they will be instrumental to you and your attorney as you move forward with your divorce:
1. Tax returns, Filings and Supporting Documents;
2. Bank Statements;
3. Investment Statements;
4. Mortgage, Debt and Liability Statements;
5. Deeds, Titles, and Registration Documents; and
6. Anything else that documents your financial position
Step Two: Create a Financial Plan
Once you understand your finances, you need to outline how the family is going to support two homes. That’s right, divorce involves unwinding one family and using those resources to establish two “new families”. Planning for this requires understanding current and future expenses and income so that each party can stay financially solvent after the divorce.
Step Three: Plan Long-Term
The stay-at-home parent generally needs to think how they will sustain their home once the other parent ceases paying child support and / or alimony. As part of the divorce planning it is essential that the stay-at-home parent think about retirement planning, when they will re-enter the the work force, and if they will need new training / education. The economy and the new Massachusetts alimony law make it essential that parties engage in long-term financial planning during the divorce process. To help plan, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. When will child support and / or alimony cease?
2. Will I need to begin working to supplement my finances?
3. If so, how long until I need to find a job?
4. What jobs would I qualify for given my skills and my potential new living arrangement?
5. How much savings do I have to live on for the next 6 months?
6. Can I support myself and my children if something were to happen to my spouse?
These are just a few questions that a stay-at-home parent needs to think about in the context of a divorce.
I wish you all the best,
Scafidi, Juliano & Hurd, LLP
310 Washington Street, Suite 201
Wellesley, Massachusetts 02481
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