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Kane County family lawyerWhile fathers have always played an important role in the upbringing and development of children, they have not always been treated as such by the courts. This was often due to the assignment of traditional gender roles. Further, it was originally thought that the mother was more critical than the father was in the child’s early years. Yet, as time passed, fathers began to gain important recognition in the lives of their children. The composition of families also started to change. Now, there are fathers who stay home with their children while the mothers work outside of the home. Does this necessarily affect the allocation of parental responsibilities or assignment of parenting time in divorce though?

How Child-Related Matters Are Determined

In Illinois, divorcing parents are encouraged to negotiate an agreement regarding the allocation of parental responsibilities and the parenting time details of their case. Generally, this offers numerous benefits for families, including the freedom to create a parenting plan that is tailored to meet their family’s specific needs. For example, if the couple feels the child and family would benefit most from the father receiving a greater allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time because he works from home, they could create and agree upon a parenting plan that reflects this decision.

Not all divorcing couples are able to agree upon child-related matters, however. Further, not all families should attempt direct negotiations, such as in situations involving domestic violence. In these cases, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time are decided by the courts. To make this determination, the judge will look at a number of factors to determine the best interests of the child, including:

divorce, stay-at-home mom, Kane County divorce lawyersWading through the divorce process is a different experience for everyone. For some couples, the process can be rocky from start to finish, while it can be generally smooth throughout for others. A great source of tension usually stems from financial issues, which can impact other matters in the divorce, such as childrearing styles and employment circumstances for each spouse. This applies especially to the stay-at-home parent, who has been accustomed to taking care of the home while their spouse earns the income. One major fear can often trigger a domino effect, resulting in multiple anxieties about the present and the future.

Common Anxieties for the Stay-at-Home Parent

Given the amount of energy that must be expended during the divorce journey, it is understandable how adding the stress of issues like parenting arrangements and the division of property can quickly become overwhelming. It is very common for the parent who has been removed from the workforce for some time to feel stretched thin, fearful of their financial future and how they will care for their family, and what the overhaul of their life will look like and feel like when all is said and done. If you are a stay-at-home parent going through a divorce and are experiencing these common anxieties, take a moment to consider the following:

Kane County divorce lawyerIf you have spent the last several years as a stay-at-home parent but are now facing an impending divorce, you may be wondering how your life is going to change. By their very nature, stay-at-home moms and dads rely on their partners to provide for the family financially, leaving them at a potentially serious disadvantage following a divorce. Fortunately, there are options available for stay-at-home parents to help alleviate the financial impact of a divorce, and a qualified family lawyer can help you explore them all.

Spousal Maintenance

One of the primary tools that the court may use to help a stay-at-home parent in divorce is maintenance, also known known as alimony. Under Illinois law, maintenance may be ordered following the end of a marriage if the court finds that there is a legitimate need by one spouse. There are many factors that the court must take into account when making a determination regarding spousal support, and your status as a stay-at-home parent is not sufficient by itself to force the court to order maintenance payments.

alimony, divorced homemaker, homemaker contributions, Illinois property division, Kane County divorce attorney, marital property, marital property division, property division, stay-at-home dad, stay-at-home mom, stay-at-home parentBeing a stay-at-home mom or dad can be just as much a full-time job as being a corporate attorney, high school teacher, physician’s assistant, or any other profession. And yet, those who work as full-time parents and/or homemakers might be sensitive to the fact that they are not breadwinners and, actually, bring in no income at all. Consequently, the stay-at-home spouse might feel like a dependent.

Illinois law, however, considers marriage a “joint enterprise," which means it recognizes the contributions that a stay-at-home parent and/or homemaker made to the marriage. If the marriage ends in divorce, the law does not penalize the parent who traded a professional career for caretaker responsibilities in the home. While this does not mean that a divorced homemaker would not have to get a job, it does mean that the court considers the party’s future employment opportunities and homemaker contributions when dividing the marital property and determining whether he or she is entitled to alimony (or maintenance) payments.

It is easier to demonstrate evidence of homemaker contributions if the marriage produced children. However, if a spouse stayed home and took care of the children, he or she is not automatically entitled to a large payout. The breadwinning spouse may prove that the stay-at-home parent was a terrible homemaker or that the parties divided house and child-rearing responsibilities equally. Such evidence would seriously undermine a party’s homemaker argument when determining the value of marital contributions.

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