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How does divorce work when one parent stays at home?

Divorce can seem complicated enough when both spouses work, but what if one spouse is a stay-at-home parent? Whether a parent works or is the stay-at-home spouse, he or she may be wondering how it can be financially possible to divorce and if the court would give a custody advantage to the stay-at-home parent.

Figuring out issues before, during and after divorce can certainly be complicated. It is often in the parents' best interest to decide things themselves rather than have a judge force a decision upon them. Mediation helps in many situations. In any case, here are some possible ways in which divorce could work when one parent has been staying at home.

The arrangement continues

Perhaps both parents would still prefer for one parent to be able to stay home and care for the kids, either as a short-term arrangement or a longer-term one. That should not be a problem as long as both spouses are on board, and it is financially feasible. Alimony and child support may come into play in some ways, and versions of joint custody can still be possible in such cases.

One parent has to look for work

Often, it is not financially realistic for one parent to continue to stay at home, and that parent must start looking for work. Depending on the duration of the marriage, how long the parent was out of the workforce and his or her skills, alimony payments may need to be made for some time. As for child custody or visitation, parents should strive to give children as much time with both their parents as possible, absent situations such as neglect, apathy or abuse.

Planning can reduce complications

If a marriage is not working out, finances should not be a reason for parents to stay together. Children pick up on the unhappiness and tension, so planning before and during the divorce plus a lot of cooperation between the spouses helps the process go better. It can take sacrifices but is frequently preferable to staying in a bad situation.

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