Valuing stay-at-home parents’ contribution in a divorce

The decision to divorce can be troubling and difficult for many people in Missouri. For the 25% of American mothers who stay at home to raise their children and the 7% of fathers who do the same, the end of a marriage can be particularly worrying. They have spent years outside of the workforce, and, as a result, they may face a much more difficult time obtaining a competitive salary after seeking a job. They may also need additional education or training in order to obtain employment that can provide for themselves and their children.

The decision to stay at home is widely supported in American society, particularly for mothers; studies continue to show that many people believe that mothers should leave the workforce to care for their children. Even 10% of highly educated mothers with a master’s degree or higher stay home to dedicate themselves to raising their children. This may mean that they are leaving a high-powered career; when they later return to the workforce, including after a divorce, they can face significantly lower salaries.

Stay-at-home parents also play a critical role in supporting the development of their spouse’s career. Working spouses can dedicate long hours to the job, go on business trips or launch their own businesses with the support of the other spouse at home. In many cases, the working spouse could not accumulate their level of wealth or achievement in the workforce without the additional support provided by the spouse raising the children at home.

Like most states, Missouri is an equitable distribution state. Both spouses are not necessarily entitled to half of the marital property, but homemaking contributions are explicitly recognized. Stay-at-home parents moving toward divorce may want to consult with a family law attorney about how to achieve a fair property division settlement.

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