The divorce process can be overwhelming to anyone contemplating the thought of ending a marriage. Nevertheless, stay-at-home mothers seem to be in a particularly vulnerable position regarding divorce. The longer the marriage combined with a greater period out of the workforce seems to increase the anxiety relative to divorce.
Mothers who devote their lives to raising their children and maintaining their home often have serious (and legitimate) concerns over where they will live, how they will cover insurance costs, and how small children will be supported after a divorce. Such obstacles can make the divorce process seem out of reach for those in abusive, dysfunctional or even simply unhappy marriages. (While in 2014 we are still more likely to see moms staying at home while dad goes to work, obviously this scenario plays out for stay-at-home fathers as well, and the law is gender neutral.)
There are a few basic tasks which the attorneys at Keil & Siegel LLP recommend to stay-at-home parents who share such concerns:
FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE IN DIVORCE IS POWER
Gather as much data as possible regarding marital assets and the income of your spouse. This includes real estate, bank accounts, retirement assets, and insurance plans. Obtain records if possible of previously filed tax returns, bank account statements, credit card statements, etc. The more you know, the better you and your attorney can assess what type of distribution you would or should receive in the event of a divorce. Try to organize the information and have it available should you need it for your attorney. Rest assured that under New York state law, both parties are entitled to an equitable (but not necessarily equal) distribution of all assets acquired during the marriage. More about NYS equitable distribution in divorce here.
CREDIT REPORTS WILL HELP YOU IN A DIVORCE
Marital debt is as crucial as income and assets. Many stay-at-home parents do not have knowledge of the debts obtained during the marriage. Acquiring a credit report is a simple and inexpensive step and reveals a plethora of data. Credit reports reveal loans, joint credit card debt and other assorted liabilities. Understanding the debts obtained during the marriage is a crucial step in determining what type of financial situation would arise upon a divorce. You can obtain a free credit report at http://annualcreditreport.com.
FIND OUT ABOUT STATE DIVORCE LAW
In New York, matrimonial law (codified in the Domestic Relations Law) requires the income-earning spouse to provide support and legal fees to the non-income earning spouse at least while the divorce is pending. Thereafter, there are many factors the court considers in determining support. In addition, a percentage of all marital income is automatically attributed to child support. Ultimately, when a concerned stay-at-home parent gathers legal information, this can be reassuring and comforting. Seek at least three consultations with attorneys, volunteers or court advocates. Take notes and become knowledgeable. Confidence in the divorce process is derived from accurate knowledge of the law. You can find the NYS Domestic Relations Law here: http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us/menugetf.cgi?COMMONQUERY=LAWS.
OBTAIN PERSONAL SUPPORT DURING DIVORCE
You are not alone. Divorce is very common. Talk to other moms, relatives and friends. Take the time to research support groups offline and online (local papers list support groups at local churches, synagogues and community centers). This type of support may make the goal of divorce seem obtainable. Or, perhaps something to hold off on. Hearing the stories of other mothers is educational as well as comforting. Plus, references are the best source of attorney referral and can lead you to your greatest advocate.
The attorneys at Keil & Siegel LLP provide you with FREE consultation. We will assess your situation and evaluate the best course of action for your divorce.
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