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What are your rights in a divorce as a stay-at-home dad?

Author: Alan Brady
Published: Aug 15 2013

With the ever growing number of women who are primary breadwinners in their households and corresponding rise in stay-at-home dads it’s not a huge surprise that divorce proceedings have also changed significantly in the last few decades. Traditionally it was expected that the woman would walk away from a divorce with the children, the house, and court-ordered child support and alimony from her ex-husband, since he would have likely been the sole provider for the family. While the system has adapted to the more progressive society that we live in today, many stay-at-home dads are unaware of their rights in divorce proceedings, and in failing to apply them find themselves disadvantaged by their own expectations.


Child custody is almost always going to be shared. You can and should expect to win shared custody of your children unless your ex can bring forth strong evidence to indicate that being in your custody would not be in their best interest.

If your ex abuses drugs or alcohol, or abuses your children physically or emotionally, then you should pursue sole custody yourself. Courts award custody based on what they consider to be in the best interest of the child. Contrary to popular belief, men and women are equally considered in custody battles, and throwing in the towel prematurely because of a self-defeating attitude doesn’t help anyone.

Your House and Assets

Don’t just pack up and leave if your ex tells you to get out of your house. It’s your house too. While it’s difficult to live with your spouse while you’re trying to work through a divorce, it’s more difficult to justify your need to hold on to your home if you aren’t using it. Also, not being the primary provider means that you have a strong case for why you should keep the house, car, or other assets to help you stay afloat while you get the training and education you need to re-enter the workforce.

You should never abandon your home or leave your assets unattended until ownership has been prescribed by the court. That means sticking it out and living in the garage if you have to, just remember that you’re entitled to stay in your home until you no longer own it.

Alimony and Child Support

If you end up gaining sole or shared custody of your children you are likely to be entitled to child support payments from your ex, especially if she significantly out-earns you.

Alimony is based on a number of factors, none of them gender based. If you were married and outside of the workforce for a long time (longer than 5 years, and the odds of winning are higher if it’s been longer) and your spouse has a steady income then you are likely to be entitled to alimony payments. These are not necessarily permanent, and often are meant to help support you while you receive training and education to re-enter the workforce.

As a stay-at-home dad, you should proactively seek knowledge and resources to help you though your divorce. Reading articles about your divorce rights and contacting any of the child custody lawyers in your area will help you prepare to care for your children after your divorce.

Alan Brady is a freelance writer who focuses on issues related to divorce law, relationships, finance, and real estate.

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