Stay-at-Home Mom Divorce Rights in California

Posted in Divorce on May 10, 2022

As a stay-at-home mom, you’ve dedicated your life to taking care of the household, the children and your spouse. You’ve dealt with the stress and sacrifice of managing everything else while your spouse works. During a divorce, however, you may run into challenges getting the outcome that you deserve. It is important to know your rights as a stay-at-home so that you can demand a fair divorce settlement in California.

Custody Rights for Stay-at-Home Moms in California

The courts in California do not automatically grant child custody to the mother, even if she is a stay-at-home mom who has spent much more time with the kids than the working spouse. As the parent who usually stays home and cares for the children, however, your odds of achieving primary custody are high – especially if your kids are still young. A custody decision is always made based on the best interests of the children. 

The courts believe that the children of divorce do better when they remain in meaningful and continuing contact with both parents. This means that you should not expect to obtain sole custody of your kids unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a coparent’s substance abuse disorder, domestic violence or incarceration. Most child custody arrangements made by the courts are joint custody, such as a 50/50 or 75/25 split. However, the custody arrangement chosen will depend on the situation.

Getting Child Support as a Stay-at-Home Mom in California

If you are awarded child custody in a divorce case, you will also be eligible for child support. This is almost always available for stay-at-home moms in California, as they have given up careers and work opportunities to stay home and provide childcare. Thus, the working spouse will be required to pay child support based on the California Child Support Guidelines. This looks at each parent’s gross income, the percentage of time that the children spend with each parent and other elements to calculate a reasonable amount in childcare for the higher-earning spouse to pay.

Are You Eligible for Spousal Support as a Stay-at-Home Mom?

Spousal support may also be available to you as a stay-at-home mom. This is something that you or your attorney will need to specifically request during your divorce. It is financial assistance from your ex-spouse to maintain the standard of living that you were used to during your marriage. It is most often awarded in cases where the couple has a significant earning disparity (especially if the lower-earning spouse gave up a career to take care of the family) and has been together for at least 10 years.

The amount awarded will depend on your ex-spouse’s income and how much is reasonable to cover your basic needs. You should not expect spousal support to last forever. Most spousal support awards only last until you are able to support yourself – meaning achieve the training or education to get a job and become financially independent. The courts will expect you to make a serious and good-faith effort to find employment while you are receiving spousal support. Your request for spousal support may be denied if you can already support yourself or have property or assets that can provide support.

Should You Hire a Divorce Attorney as a Stay-at-Home Mom?

Stay-at-home moms often encounter challenges during divorce cases. This is why it is important to hire a divorce attorney in Solana Beach to represent you. Your ex-spouse and his or her lawyer may take advantage of you if you are unrepresented, such as by arranging a divorce settlement that far underestimates what you deserve in child support or alimony. 

The best way to protect your rights and use them to your advantage is by hiring an experienced divorce attorney that you can trust. Contact Ratzer|Dobis today for a free divorce consultation with one of our Certified Family Law Specialists. We can help you protect your rights as a stay-at-home mom.