Divorce is never easy, but it’s particularly nerve-wracking for women who have given up their careers in order to take care of their children. If you’re getting divorced in Texas and you’re worried about what it means that your spouse is the primary breadwinner, stick with us to learn what you need to know.
You’ll be happy to learn that you are entitled to a fair and just portion of the estate even if you haven’t been earning income. It’s also possible that you could receive spousal support payments and child support, but these will depend on the particulars of your case.
Understanding your rights as a stay-at-home mom is essential in order to ensure the outcome of your divorce supports you and your children down the road. Here are 7 things you’ll want to know as the primary caregiver and homemaker in your family.
Anyone who is engaged in a divorce is going to be concerned about how property is divided. For stay-at-home moms, however, this topic is particularly concerning. After all, stay-at-home moms typically take on the responsibilities of childcare, household management, and more while their spouse is responsible for earning income.
Community property in Texas refers to the legal framework that governs the ownership of property that was acquired by married couples during their marriage.
What does this role division mean in terms of divorce and property division in Texas?
The good news is that Texas is a community property state, which means that any property that was acquired during the marriage is considered marital property. This is the case regardless of whose name is on the title or deed or whose income is paid for the asset.
The division of property in a Texas divorce is, under law, subject to “fair and just” division. Courts will take valuable contributions into account when determining how property is divided. This means that the hard work of stay-at-home moms is considered when deciding how an estate will be split.
For a deeper dive into the question of property division in Texas, check out these articles:
A primary concern for many stay-at-home moms is the question of child custody. When the issues in a divorce pertain to children, the Texas courts always prioritize the best interest of the child or children involved.
In general, courts encourage parents to spend as much time as they can with their kids and actively participate in their children’s lives.
You will usually find that one parent will end up having more parenting time than the other. The parent that spends more time with the child is known as the primary caregiver.
It isn’t uncommon for stay-at-home moms to be awarded primary custody since they have been serving as the primary caregiver. If you have been providing the lion’s share of childcare in your marriage, you will perhaps find some solace knowing that Texas courts try to provide continuity for children as much as possible.
Child support payments are going to be directly influenced by what results from the child custody proceedings. It’s typical for the noncustodial parent to make payments to the primary custodian.
There are guidelines the state of Texas uses to determine child support payments. The amount the supporting parent is expected to pay will depend on the number of children being supported and the income of the paying parent.
Parents have the ability to request additional child support beyond the standard guidelines. However, the onus is on them to prove why they will need additional funds.
Texas is often stated as one of the most difficult states in which to receive alimony through the court. That being said, it is possible for you and your spouse to agree to spousal support payments in a marital agreement that goes beyond the formula used by the courts.
Texas tends to have a more restrictive approach to alimony compared to some other states. The state has specific guidelines and limitations on awarding alimony, also referred to as spousal maintenance.
If you are expecting to receive court-ordered spousal maintenance payments, it’s worth understanding that the qualifications are quite strict. These requirements only get your foot in the door to have your argument heard by the court– you won’t necessarily be awarded alimony even if you fulfill the qualifications.
There are a number of factors the court will take into account if you do qualify, including:
Another important question on the minds of most stay at home moms when they’re confronting a divorce is whether they will be able to keep their health insurance. After all, most stay at home moms will be receiving insurance coverage through their spouse’s employee healthcare plan.
When courts address the question of insurance coverage, they will typically consider whether you were reliant on health insurance when you were married to your spouse.
As a stay at home mom, there’s a good chance you are interested in staying in your marital home with your children after the divorce. Who will end up keeping the house will depend on a number of different factors, and some couples will end up selling the house in order to access the equity in the property.
Who gets to keep the family home is going to depend on your particular circumstance. You and your spouse can mutually agree to a specific outcome in a divorce agreement, for example, or the court could award the home to one spouse or order that the property is sold and the proceeds are divided. If one spouse owned the home before marriage, they might try to prove to the court that the house is their separate property rather than marital property.
When most of your family estate is tied up in your home, it isn’t uncommon to sell the home. In cases where there are more assets at play than just the house, it’s possible that the marital home can be awarded to one spouse and offset by other valuable assets awarded to the other spouse.
It’s important to understand that you aren’t just going to be left out of the marital estate because you haven’t been the primary breadwinner in your family. You have the same rights as your spouse under Texas law to the community property that was acquired during your marriage.
Beyond this, it’s possible that you could receive additional support since you have been a stay at home mom during your marriage. For example, the court could potentially state that your spouse needs to cover your attorney’s fees.
Furthermore, if your spouse has taken on a new romantic partner during the divorce, you can have your lawyer protect the community estate by helping you obtain a financial restraining order.
Getting divorced can be terrifying, overwhelming, and incredibly stressful. Though learning about divorce laws might not be anyone’s idea of a good time, the truth is that you can help ensure the divorce process is as seamless as possible by learning as much as possible in preparation.
If you’re a stay at home mom, you will be glad to know that Texas law protects you in several ways and recognizes the value of your contribution regardless of whether you have been generating income.
At the same time, it’s important to not flippantly relate to the process of divorce. The outcomes of the proceeding can have a huge impact on your life going forward.
In most cases, it is advised that you work with a lawyer when there are children involved in a divorce. If you and your spouse are in complete agreement about all issues in the divorce and your estate isn’t complex, it’s possible that you could save on attorney’s fees and get a DIY divorce, but this isn’t a decision to make lightly.
Are you searching for more resources to help guide you during the divorce process? Make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog for more useful articles!
It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.