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What stay-at-home parents must know about alimony in divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2023 | divorce

When you think back to the time when you agreed to sacrifice your career to stay home full time and raise a family, you no doubt made the decision assuming that your marriage would last a lifetime. As many California parents have discovered, things don’t always work out the way a spouse had hoped, especially regarding a marital relationship. If divorce is imminent, you’ll want to make sure that you receive the financial support you might need to retain the lifestyle to which you and your children are accustomed.

If you have been a stay-at-home parent for five years or more and have not had an opportunity to earn income from home, you might be solely financially dependent on your spouse. Understanding state spousal support laws before heading to court can help you make informed decisions regarding a settlement and any requests you might make to receive alimony.

A California judge can issue alimony on a temporary basis

It can take weeks or months to settle a divorce in a California family court. Your spouse may have already moved out of the house, while you and your children are still there with financial needs. If you have been out of the workforce while raising your family, you might not have an immediate opportunity for employment. In such cases, a judge can order your ex to provide financial supplement on a temporary basis while divorce proceedings are ongoing.

Rehabilitative spousal support provides financial assistance after divorce

When you go from being a full-time stay-at-home parent with no means of self-supporting income to a single parent household, you and your children will no doubt have to navigate several major life changes. Such changes might include you going to school to further your education and increase your earning potential or seeking full-time employment.

A family court judge is able to review your case and determine an amount of spousal support that your ex should provide on an indefinite basis. This is known as “rehabilitative” spousal support. The judge can end it at any time, for instance, if you become fully self-supporting and no longer need financial assistance.

The court can modify its orders to increase or reduce alimony payments

Spousal support, or alimony, as many people refer to it, is meant to enable a lower-income spouse to maintain a lifestyle that is similar to the one that he or she maintained during the marriage. It is also a means to provide for a spouse who will need time, after divorce, to acquire gainful employment and obtain enough income to make ends meet without relying on a former spouse.

If you were to have a medical emergency or some other issue arises that increases your financial needs, you can request modification of the spousal support order. However, unless or until the court grants the request, the existing order remains active and legally enforceable. The more you know about such issues ahead of time, the less stressful it might be to navigate California divorce proceedings.