Despite a recent uptick in marriage rates, divorces are down. In fact, Time reports a 40-year low for divorces. Still, this is little consolation for those facing a divorce. Perhaps no one is more deeply impacted than stay-at-home moms. For a woman who has spent years raising children and caring for the family home, the prospect of a divorce can be devastating, to say the least.
Often stay-at-home moms may not control or even have regular access to finances. Some may find that they do not have the flexibility to easily meet with attorneys or go to the bank, especially if they have several small children in tow. With this in mind, consider these straightforward steps that every stay-at-home mom can take to prepare herself for a divorce.
Step 1: Personal Inventory
Before you go any further, take a deep breath and ask yourself if this is truly what you want. You will need a strong and loyal support system, so reach out to friends or family you can trust to help you emotionally.
Step 2: Ensure Personal Safety
Are you safe? Is your husband abusive, or do you believe he would become violent if you filed for divorce? If you are concerned about the safety and welfare of yourself or your children, contact an attorney immediately and reach out to one of the many resources in your area for support. You might consider calling the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
Step 3: Gather Your Documents
Assuming you’ve decided you want a divorce and your safety is not a concern, you must begin gathering documents. Since stay-at-home moms generally do not receive substantial income for their daily efforts, you will need to know how much your husband earns and how much your family’s expenses are. Try to gather up the following if you can, but do not do anything to create alarm or start an argument. If these are easily accessible, terrific. If not, your attorney can help you get them later. Having these items will help you and your attorney develop a workable plan from the start.
- Pay stubs;
- Tax returns;
- Bank account information;
- Investments or savings accounts;
- List of your regular bills and debts (yours and your husband’s);
- List of personal items of value that will likely need to be split;
- Vehicle registrations and insurance information; and
- Health insurance information for yourself and your children.
Step 4: Contact a South Carolina Divorce Lawyer
Many people do not realize that South Carolina law actually allows your attorney to petition the judge to have the other party pay all or part of your attorney’s fees. If you have no income, then the court will consider the following factors when deciding to award attorney fees:
- The ability of each person to pay fees;
- The financial condition of each person;
- How fees will affect each person’s standard of living; and
- The results obtained by the attorney.
Keep in mind that although “fault” is not a factor, judges are typically more inclined to make a husband pay a wife’s attorney’s fees when the husband’s conduct led to the divorce. Likewise, if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a long time, and your husband is the sole earner, it’s likely a judge will make him pay at least a good portion of the fees. Don’t just worry about your future; take control today. If you are a stay-at-home mom facing a divorce, contact Lauren Taylor Law to get real help and advice now.
South Carolina divorce attorney Lauren Taylor practices family law in Charleston and Greenville. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for more than ten years.
Since the firm’s inception in 2012, Mrs. Taylor has helped hundreds of people navigate the uncertainties surrounding the family and criminal court process.
She has cultivated a team that ensures each case has a strategy crafted specifically to the clients needs and desires.
Her commitment to top notch service has led her to open two additional offices in the low country where she now resides with her husband Michael and her golden retriever, Buster.