After getting married and when first starting a family, roughly 25% of mothers choose to forego their careers in order to stay home and raise their kids. This is undoubtedly a noble cause and one that benefits the family in a variety of ways. The problem comes when divorce enters the picture. Are stay-at-home moms treated fairly in divorce?
According to an article published in early 2019, the answer is no. Women often end up walking away from their marriages with less than they could or should. Why is that?
The value of being a caretaker
Too few people recognize the value of full-time caretakers. Mothers wear many hats. They have harder jobs than most people who actually leave home to go to work every day, yet they go uncompensated. Despite all their hard work, their value is not thought of as highly as the family breadwinner. Then again, the worth of a caretaker is all based on personal opinion.
Researchers at Vanderbilt asked 3,000 study participants to share their thoughts on the value of stay-at-home parents. After given a divorce scenario, the outcomes were as follows:
- Female participants said they'd give the stay-at-home mom a more significant share of assets regardless of her level of education and previous work history.
- Male participants said they would grant the stay-at-home parent a greater share of assets only if she had a certain level of education.
- Both men and women admitted homemakers do have value.
Based on this and other study results, stay-at-home moms are more likely to walk away with less than their fair share of assets and are not likely to achieve long-term spousal support.
Distribution of assets in Michigan
Michigan is an equitable distribution state. This means each party should leave the marriage with his or her fair share of marital assets. What is appropriate or equitable depends on various factors. You and your spouse may be able to negotiate an agreeable settlement. If not, the court will look at how long you've been married, your spouse's income level, your potential income level and your economic need -- among other things -- before issuing property division and support terms.
If you are a stay-at-home mom and divorce is on the horizon, it is possible to walk away from your marriage with a fair settlement, but you'll likely have to fight for it. With the right assistance, you can do just that.