A common concern of parents who are entering a divorce who have historically stayed home with the minor children of the marriage, is if they will be able to continue in their established role. With 20% of parents fulfilling the stay at home parent role it is one that is not uncommon. In many cases, the parent who stayed at home has been out of the work force for many years, and has not engaged in any financial contributions to the marriage. Therefore, this parent may be concerned about their ability to provide financially for themselves, or simply not desire to obtain a job outside of the home. In these cases, discuss your circumstances with your divorce attorney to reveal the options available to you.
When entering a divorce, the ability to financially afford a divorce and the unknown financial status of each partner after the divorce is finalized is one of the major concerns of every couple. This concern is especially true for those who are a stay at home parent and have no outside income to support themselves. Therefore, if you are a stay at home parent it will be imperative to discuss your need for financial support outside of your marriage and into your single life. This financial support is known as alimony.
In Florida, alimony is awarded on a case by case basis after consideration of a party’s need and the other party’s ability to meet this need. When a spouse has stayed at home with the children and therefore, has been absent from the workforce, it is inevitable to see a deficient between their income and necessary expenses. With such an apparent deficient, the court will likely find there is a present need for alimony. In turn, your spouse must also have the ability to meet this need. If this initial threshold is met the court will then look to the number of factors provided in Florida Statute 61.08 to determine what type of award is appropriate. Some of these factors include: length of marriage, standard of living established, age and health of parties, earning capacities, and contribution of each party to the marriage including homemaking and child care. At first glance, many of these factors are presumed to lean in favor of the stay at home spouse. However, your eligibility for each different type of alimony award is dependent upon your specific circumstances and applicability of each factor.
For instance, Bridge the Gap alimony is award on a temporary basis to aid in short term identifiable needs of a party. This is typically given in cases where the spouse is in need of financial assistance to find new housing, or provide a foundation as to assist in the transition into their new single life. If you have been a stay at home parent for a short period this may be a suitable option, However, if you have stayed home for a great deal of time, you are likely to be in need of more assistance and for a longer duration of time and therefore, this award will likely be combined with another form of alimony.
In most cases where a parent has stayed at home to raise the party’s minor children, they will be awarded rehabilitative alimony. This award provides the spouse with the ability to gain essential education, skills, training, or credentials in order to enter a career that would assist in their financial independence. However, in some cases, when a parent is out of the work force fore a great deal of time due to the childrearing, even after obtaining a certain degree, they may not be able to financially support themselves without the assistance of their former partner. In these cases, durational or permanent alimony may be awarded.
Overall, it is important to note that many stay at home parents do rely on alimony awards after their divorce. However, these awards are subjective and each may contain their own unique rules or regulations. Therefore, if you are fearful of your inability to become employed after being a stay at home parent or are wishing to remain home with your children as you have done in the past, it is important to discuss your stay at home parent role with your attorney in order to prepare the possible arguments necessary moving forward with your divorce.
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