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Your Family Matters

What help is available to a dependent spouse during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 14, 2020 | Divorce

Many households find that it is more cost-effective to have one spouse stay home to take care of the house and children than it is to pay for childcare and to hire professionals for things like cleaning and cooking. Staying at home can have a lot of benefits, from maintaining control over the state of your house and your diet to having time with your children while they are young.

Unfortunately, if you are the one who stays home with the kids, it can put you on uneven footing with your spouse if your relationship starts to fall apart. You might feel like you have no options because you can’t currently support yourself or your children with the kind of wage you can command.

Instead of staying in an unhappy marriage just because you feel like you don’t have options, it is smarter to learn about what resources you do have if you believe you need a divorce.

If you file for divorce, you may be able to stay in the family home

If you are the one who provides most, if not all, of the care for your children, it could mean that you have a claim to at least temporarily stay in the family home when you file for divorce. The courts will consider your current role when setting a temporary custody order.

They want to do what’s best for the kids, which usually involves minimizing disruption. That could mean a temporary situation where you stay in the family home with the kids until the courts make more final decisions.

You can ask for spousal support in some cases

Child support is more or less automatic when a couple with minor children initiates divorce proceedings. However, you will have to ask for alimony or spousal support if you think you need it. The court will evaluate your request based on factors like the length of your marriage, your earning potential, the custody of the kids and your spouse’s income.

You can even ask for help paying for your attorney

Good legal advice is critical for those going through drastic life changes, like divorce. You shouldn’t have to forego getting adequate help just because you haven’t been earning a wage in the last few years. New York courts can and do allocate attorney costs to the spouse with resources in a divorce situation where one spouse does not have enough income to cover their attorney fees.

Even if the courts do not order your ex to pay your lawyer costs, there may be other forms of help available. Your parents, for example, may help cover the cost of getting a lawyer because they want to ensure good custody terms that will protect the relationship with their grandchildren. Extended family can also help you by offering you resources for employment or education and even a place to stay where you won’t have to incur steep rental costs.

Asking for help and getting advice before you initiate divorce proceedings as a dependent spouse can set you up for a more comfortable transition to your new life.