With Thanksgiving having just passed and the New Year almost upon us, it’s a time for goal setting. For many people this means they want to get out of their unhappy marriage and think about divorce.  January is traditionally the most popular month for divorce filings.

Of course to file for divorce you have to be ready, both emotionally and financially. If you aren’t working, it’s not uncommon to be nervous about proceeding with a divorce.

Stay-at-home moms in Chicago provide so much value to their families. Taking care of children requires a lot of work: grocery shopping, food preparation and cleanup; transporting the kids to school and their activities in sun, rain, and snow; helping them with their homework, etc. Of course, being a stay-at-home mom often goes beyond taking care of the children. Many clean and maintain the house, do the laundry for the whole family, take care of the finances, run errands, take care of the cars, do some gardening and yard work, and the list goes on.

Various companies have tried over the years to assign a dollar amount to the value stay-at-home moms provide to their families. In May 2021, Insure.com said that a mom should earn about $116,022 for the many jobs she must tackle every day. Meanwhile, Salary.com in 2019 estimated the figure at $178,201.

It’s clear that stay-at-homes add a great deal of value to the family. The reality is though, that moms do not get a paycheck for their work. And sadly, when a couple has decided to get a divorce, a stay-at-home mom might feel like she is at a huge disadvantage in the legal arena. Perhaps she doesn’t feel like she can hire or pay for a high-powered, experienced attorney like her husband can. Perhaps she is worried about “wasting” money on legal bills when the higher priorities in her mind are saving money for her and the children’s future needs.

The good news is that when one party in a divorce earns all the money, the other party (i.e., stay-at-home mom) can get a court order to have the breadwinner pay her legal fees. She doesn’t have to let her husband’s attorney “work things out for the both of them.” That attorney will not have her best interests at heart. She doesn’t have to settle for average or below-average legal representation, either. She can hire a reputable, experienced lawyer who can go toe to toe with her husband’s attorney because, again, the court order can require her husband to pay her legal bills.

There is no guarantee this will happen, but typically the first thing your lawyer will do is file a motion for lawyer fees. In the alternative, if you have access to bank accounts, you can almost always take that money to pay for a retainer. Beyond, that you can expect additional compensation while the case is going on in the form of temporary maintenance (often thought of as alimony) and/or child support.

Some other tips for stay-at-home moms who might be getting a divorce include gathering financial information (e.g., tax returns, investment account balances and holdings, retirement savings), documenting exactly what she does on a daily basis to take care of the children and the family as a whole, and documenting the expenses she incurs on a weekly or monthly basis.

But don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s never an easy process at first and consulting with a lawyer doesn’t mean a divorce is happening. What it would mean is that you are finding out your rights and obligations and able to get a game plan together. Then you can make an educated decision as to what you want to do. If you would like to speak to a divorce lawyer for free to learn more about this process, please call us any time at 312-346-5320.