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Stay-at-Home Moms: What Alimony Can You Expect After Divorce?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Stay-at-home moms may need to reset their expectations about alimony after divorce; it might not be a given.

A Forbes contributor writes that many women going through divorce are quickly finding that spousal support (also known as alimony) is not provided by default. Even if it is granted, alimony may be squeezed down to a very small window of time and/or for a fraction of what a divorcee might expect. This may leave many stay-at-home moms, who may have been out of the job market for years, in the lurch.

So what should stay-at-home moms expect from alimony?

You Can Still Get Alimony

Not every ex-spouse is entitled to alimony, and even the ones who receive spousal support may only have it temporarily. Depending on the financial situations of both ex-spouses at the time of divorce, alimony may only be a brief financial bridge to independence or a permanent source of support.

Forbes reports that in 2010, 97 percent of persons receiving alimony were women, and many of them may have been stay-at-home moms. But the trend of automatically granting alimony to mothers who stayed out of the job market during marriage is on the decline, and alimony may be only reserved for those at a severe financial disadvantage.

Moms Are Expected to Work

The culture of women in the workplace has changed, and arguably so have attitudes toward permanent alimony. Since it is increasingly common for modern families to have two wage earners, women are being treated less like permanent dependents. While this is progressive in many respects, it may be a shock to some stay-at-home moms when their decisions to not seek employment during marriage counts for very little in terms of a spousal support award.

As Emma Johnson writes for Forbes, stay-at-home moms should expect "little sympathy" from judges -- many of whom are or have been working moms themselves.

Moms Still Get Child Support

While large and permanent alimony awards may be on the decline, this does not mean that stay-at-home moms will be denied child support. Child support takes into account the relative financial disparities between ex-spouses, but makes sure to provide the custodial parent with enough to meets the needs of any dependent children. And this support doesn't necessarily end once the kids turn 18 or graduate high school.

Of course, every divorce is different. You may want to talk to an attorney to get a better idea of what you should expect in alimony from your divorce.

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