Are you a parent staying home and getting a divorce? Most of my mediation cases involve a parent who stays at home, usually mothers but sometimes fathers. It takes a while for you to emotionally realize that your lifestyle is changing during and after your divorce.
Back to work
Going back to work is a change that is scary and difficult to accept. There is loss of prestige, loss of your social life and your way of life. Fear of rejection from potential employers and lack of confidence in your modern work skills is normal. You may feel that a “deal” has been made that you did not need to work on and you feel that this deal should be kept. You have to trust someone else to watch your children and that is difficult for both you and your children to accept.
The reality is that most of the women who stayed at home do not regain their standard of living after divorce. Unfortunately, many of them live close to the poverty line after retirement. Returning to work is a reality that you will have to face sooner rather than later. Existing assets will be used up if you remain unemployed or underemployed. If you make smart divorce decisions like returning to work, you have a better chance of a safe retirement.
Should You Go Back to Work Before Your Divorce Is Final?
Lawyers sometimes tell their clients to stop working during the divorce so they can get more support. This may work for some, but it can also backfire. The judges expect a physically fit woman to return to work. I’ve seen judges imputing income (minimum wage minimum) to determine child and spouse support when an inactive spouse is young and healthy enough to get a job (and has children over 3 years old).
North Carolina child benefit guidelines only cover basic expenses. If one parent is not working, the children’s financial support suffers. The process can take years; Years in which your financial situation suffers and years in which you do not gain experience, improve your professional situation and generally improve. If your attorney doesn’t “win” for you, it can be a financial disaster.
Should your ex be forced to support you?
In mediation, the working spouse usually tells me that it would be unfair for their lifestyle to lose a lot to support an ex-spouse who wants to stay home. My “gray” divorces (over 50) have kids in college or late teens. In these cases, staying at home is viewed as an unfair “retirement”, often in their early or mid fifties. The working spouse envisions working until the age of 70 or more. For these reasons, the working spouse demands that the non-working spouse be “added to” a certain amount of earned income.
Try to look for the positive and face the challenge! Technology has probably changed a lot since you were unemployed, but this knowledge can be learned in a short amount of time. There are online courses on YouTube, Thinkific, and LinkedIn Learning that can help you learn the skills you need for little or no money.
You can get started by learning these skills while you are still at home. Receiving formal education may not be financially smart or necessary as it will postpone the inevitable, consume resources, and may not necessarily result in additional income that is justified. Going back to school is just a coping mechanism sometimes because working or looking for a job is much more scary than going to school.
Child care at work
It is difficult to leave the children in someone else’s care! Realize that many children with working parents will grow into successful adults. There are plenty of safe and trustworthy people who provide quality childcare, and having working parents is the norm these days.
Returning to work can help boost your self-esteem, and everyone needs that boost after a divorce! Being a home parent can be ungrateful !! Your children don’t thank you often for a job well done, and there is no paycheck. Finding out from your boss that you are doing a great job and receiving a raise can hugely boost your confidence and self-esteem. Women who rise to the challenge – even when building careers that represent a fraction of their ex-husband’s income – seem to be much happier and more balanced after divorce.
When you finally get back to work, you can improve your social life. At work you need to think about new activities and challenges. You will also meet new women and men and start new friendships, you might even find romance!