Divorce in the News: Stay-at-Home Parents Are At Financial Risk During Divorce

A very interesting article in the Huffington Post this morning, written by divorce lawyer Beverly Willett, entitled, “Are Stay-At-Home Parents At Financial Risk During Divorce?“  Willett writes,

In practical terms, if the breadwinner leaves, the first risk faced is lack of immediate access to funds. Even if you have a joint bank account, your spouse might decide to open a new one in which to deposit paychecks. Joint stock or savings accounts may require joint approval for withdrawals. This could leave stay-at-home parents hostage for money until they are able to secure a temporary order of support as well as funds with which to defend themselves. For that, they’ll undoubtedly need to hire an attorney and pay a retainer, unless the lawyer is willing to wait.

Indeed, the non-working spouse is at the greatest risk when the divorce was not anticipated.  Unfortunately, most states have adopted no-fault divorce grounds, permitting one spouse to the union to seek divorce unilaterally, regardless of the other spouse’s wishes.  In Colorado, the cause of the breakup of the marriage is not admissible in the divorce.  Courts will not consider which spouse is at fault when weighing how to divide property “equitably.”  The benefits the innocent spouse expected to receive from the continuation of the marriage are not deemed relevant, even when it comes to the award of spousal maintenance.  Willett continues,

The financial risk stay-at-home parents face when it comes to alimony is even more troubling. When no-fault was instituted, permanent alimony awarded to spouses who had given up their careers to become stay-at-home parents began to fall out of favor, permanent alimony being deemed incompatible with the clean break idea behind no-fault.

Read the entire article.

For the time being, Colorado does make provision for spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony.  If you are an innocent spouse or stay-at-home parent, call the Law Office of Kirk Garner to set up a consultation to discuss your eligibility to receive alimony.