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What You Need To Know As A Stay At Home Parent Going Through Divorce

A man and two children cleaning a hardwood floor with a vacuum cleaner.In this article, you will discover:

  • Washington Courts’ approach to custodial rights for stay at home parents in a divorce.
  • How the court evaluates whether or not to award spousal support to stay at home parents.
  • What stay at home parents can do to prepare for divorce proceedings in Washington state.

Does The Stay At Home Parent Automatically Get More Custodial Rights When Parents Are Divorcing In Washington?

When determining custody arrangements, the court often considers the status quo, especially if the stay-at-home parent has been the more frequent caregiver. However, it’s crucial to note that the other parent should not be penalized for working.

To address this, the court will usually look at what happens after work as well. Factors such as helping with homework, making dinner, spending time with the children, and participating in bedtime routines become critical considerations here.

By considering these routines, the court aims to determine the level of parental involvement and contribution to the children’s well-being, ensuring that the best interests of the children are prioritized in the custody decision. If the working parent just comes home from work and has dinner and doesn’t engage with the children, then the parent who stays at home is going to arguably have a more substantial right to custody.

In any case, the courts continue to lean towards more of a 50-50 schedule as the years have progressed. This means that just because you are a stay-at-home parent does not automatically give you priority in terms of custody.

The court is looking at the status quo, namely, who has done what and what will ensure that we maintain stability for these children. If the stay-at-home parent has always been with the children, taken them to their events, and has always been the person the children go to, it sets much stronger arguments to substantiate that they should be the primary custodial parent.

As A Non-Working Parent, Will I Be Able To Get Child Support And Spousal Support Throughout A Divorce Process In Washington?

Child support is an automatic right of the child, irrespective of the employment status of the parents. The calculation involves considering both parents’ incomes by combining Parent A’s and Parent B’s incomes. Next, the court uses a chart, which includes the number of children, and uses the set figures to establish child support based on the total income.

To determine the actual child support amount, the percentage of each parent’s income is calculated by dividing their individual income by the total income. This percentage is then multiplied by a standard calculated number to arrive at the child support figure that the child or children are entitled to receive. Ultimately, the goal here is to ensure financial support for the child’s well-being.

For non-working parents, the court typically does not consider an income of zero but rather computes it based on the minimum wage in the area. This is rooted in the presumption that any individual could secure employment, even at an entry-level position like McDonald’s, representing the minimum income expectation.

While being a non-working parent doesn’t automatically guarantee child support, various factors can influence the court’s decision and the court may modify child support or deviate from the standard calculation based on specific circumstances and considerations relevant to the case.

For example, if you are a stay-at-home parent with a Ph.D., the court is unlikely to base the calculation solely on the minimum wage. Instead, they’ll recognize your advanced degree and may compute your potential income considering various factors such as your age, gender, and the prevailing rate for someone with a Ph.D. This approach acknowledges your qualifications and seeks to determine a fair representation of their earning capacity rather than relying on a standard minimum wage calculation.

What Considerations Should Stay-At-Home Parents Keep In Mind When Evaluating Housing Options And Potential Leaving Arrangements Post-Divorce?

Unlike child support, spousal maintenance is neither automatic nor required. The court evaluates various factors to determine whether spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is warranted in a particular case. These factors may include:

  • How long were the spouses married during the marriage?
  • Did both spouses work?
  • What are the earning abilities of each spouse?
  • How long was the marriage?
  • What was the standard of living during the marriage?
  • Does one spouse have a need for financial support?
  • Does the other spouse have the ability to provide financial support?

Indeed, the court carefully evaluates factors such as need and ability when considering spousal maintenance — so, during divorce proceedings, it’s crucial to present reasonable expenses. For instance, if there are children involved, the request to remain in the family home may be driven by the desire to provide stability for the children, a factor the court often considers favorably.

In such situations, the other party may explore more affordable living arrangements, like a studio or one-bedroom apartment. Courts take post-divorce living arrangements into careful consideration, ensuring a fair and equitable outcome that addresses the unique circumstances of the case.

Naturally, these considerations can be complicated and it’s common for separating couples to have differing ideas about what the best outcome looks like moving forward. Fortunately, DC Nguyen Law is dedicated to navigating these challenges and working towards a just resolution for our clients.

How Can Stay At Home Parents Prepare For Potential Emotional And Psychological Changes That May Arise During The Divorce Process?

Understandably, divorce involves emotional, physical, and psychological aspects, and seeking therapy can be a valuable tool for anyone going through this challenging process. In each case, the need for follow-up care, including therapy, can vary depending on factors such as the length of the marriage and the unique circumstances of the individuals involved.

At DC Nguyen Law, our goal is to handle your legal case with professionalism and care. Choosing our firm means your divorce proceedings will be managed efficiently and promptly, allowing you to focus on self-care and rebuilding after making challenging decisions. No matter what this looks like for you individually, we are dedicated to helping you achieve a renewed sense of normalcy as soon as possible during this difficult time.

What Are Some Of The Recommended Steps For Stay At Home Parents To Take Before Filing For Divorce In Order To Maximize Their Chances Of Achieving A Fair And Favorable Outcome?

Washington State is a community property. So presumptively, a divorce will incur a 50/50 split of property. In Washington State, being a community property state, a divorce typically involves a presumptive 50/50 split of property. For a stay-at-home parent, demonstrating their contributions to the household is crucial in justifying this equitable division.

To do this, you’ll need financial records that showcase your family’s reasonable and normal expenditures. To go a step further, you can provide information about your family’s financial situation both historically and an estimate of what those expenditures will look like post-divorce.

While the court may not automatically grant a 50/50 split, a stay-at-home parent can strengthen their case by establishing their significant contribution and the inability to support themselves in a manner comparable to the working parent. In any case, providing a clear picture of financial disparities and future expenses can support the request for an equitable division that reflects the individual circumstances of the divorce.

For more information on Custodial Rights In A Washington Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (425) 276-7390 today.

DC Nguyen Law

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(425) 276-7390

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