Going through a divorce can be a difficult time in anyone’s life.
But it can be especially traumatic and nerve wrecking when you gave up your job, education, or finances to care for your kids or help your spouse. Because of this, many women are afraid of being kicked out of their home or forced to live on their own during a divorce. Thankfully, the law protects women who have sacrificed their finances, career or life for their families.
Know that if you’re a woman facing divorce, you likely have many distinct legal rights to protect your interests.
Your Rights as a Woman Facing Divorce:
The right to remain in your home
If you are a stay-at-home mom – or the primary guardian and caretaker for your kids – a judge can rule that you are allowed to stay in your home for the duration of divorce proceedings. You might even keep the home as part of the settlement, depending on your circumstances. Even if you don’t keep your home, you shouldn’t be immediately uprooted.
In situations where women cannot remain in their home after a divorce, they are generally given a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the home (often split 50-50 between spouses). These funds could help pay a security deposit and several months of rent for an apartment, or even provide a down payment on another home.
The right to protection from your spouse
Will you need to live with your husband during your divorce? Not necessarily. If your spouse is verbally or physically abusive, you can file for a restraining order. This may allow you to remain in your home while preventing dangerous interactions with your significant other.
The right to financial support
You may wonder how you’ll pay the bills, especially if you gave up a career to stay at home and care for your children. Thankfully, there are many provisions to help women get back into the workplace after a divorce.
Whether or not you have kids, you may be entitled to spousal support if your spouse makes significantly more than you. This can be an ongoing payment. Alternatively, it could be offered simply until you’ve found a stable job. Either way, if you’ve sacrificed your career or finances for your husband, you may be entitled to spousal support.
The spouse with custody rights is always the one to receive child support. If you have partial or full custody of your children, your ex-spouse may be required to financially support their upbringing. You won’t need to worry about paying for doctor’s appointments, school supplies, and Christmas presents on your income alone.
The right to legal help
In the middle of a divorce you can’t afford? You’re not alone. Legal fees can be daunting, and if you’ve been a stay-at-home wife or mother, you may not have the savings to afford a lawyer. Many governments are sympathetic to this situation; your judge may require your ex-spouse to finance your lawyer, or you may be allowed to use some funds from the sale of shared items to pay for your lawyer.
The right to continue caring for your children
During your divorce, if you’re a stay-at-home wife, you shouldn’t be forced to return to the workforce. The final settlement will determine whether you are eligible for enough support to live independently; until then, you are free to stay with your children and continue taking care of them.
Enduring a divorce can be heart-wrenching. If you’re going through a divorce, you’re not alone. Your state government has set up protective provisions to keep you safe and financially provided for.
Know that you don’t have to go at this alone. If you have any questions about your rights during a divorce, consider reaching out to the Fennell, Briasco, & Associates. Our team of compassionate and fierce advocates will help you understand and fight for your rights as a woman, helping guide you through this difficult time in your life and setting you up for a successful path forward.