It is not uncommon for one spouse to stay home to raise children while the other earns income working outside of the home. A spouse who has not worked for pay is often fearful that if they divorce they will not be able to support themselves financially or even have a roof over their head because they are dependent on a spouse’s income.
Although the concern is not without merit, it is important to understand that even though one spouse may have been the breadwinner doing the marriage, the non-employed spouse is entitled to an equitable share of the marital assets and may even be eligible for spousal maintenance in a divorce.
Non-Economic Contributions in a Marriage
Fortunately, the Illinois court system considers non-economic contributions when dividing marital assets in a divorce. Non-economic contributions include child rearing responsibilities one spouse may have taken on so that the other spouse could pursue a career. The court may also consider sweat equity or the work a stay at home mom or dad devotes to maintaining the home or work that a spouse contributes to a small business owned by the working spouse. Non-economic contributions add up over time and are taken into account when equitably dividing marital property in Illinois.
Illinois Spousal Maintenance
If a stay at home or lesser earning spouse is financially dependent on their spouse, a court may also consider awarding spousal maintenance aka alimony on a temporary or permanent basis depending on a number of factors such as the earning capacity of each spouse and the length of marriage. Temporary spousal maintenance may be awarded to allow a non-working spouse to get the training or education they need to enter the workforce whereas permanent alimony may be awarded for marriage of long duration where career opportunities may be limited for the non-working spouse.
Parental Responsibilities and Parenting Time
Typically the courts strive for roughly equal parenting time so that a child has the benefit of a relationship with both parents. However, the best interests of the child may be better served by awarding the majority of parenting time and parental responsibility to the parent who was the primary caregiver prior to the divorce, or who can maintain a more suitable and stable living environment for the child at least in the short term. If one parent is awarded the majority of parenting time and parental responsibility in a divorce, this may factor into the award of spousal maintenance.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer Today
Not only do Illinois courts consider non-economic contributions of an unemployed spouse when dividing marital assets in a divorce, but courts may also award spousal maintenance to a non working spouse to help them until they are able to find employment. When you are a stay at home mom or dad or are otherwise financially dependent on a spouse and are faced with divorce, it is important to discuss your concerns with an experienced Illinois divorce lawyer. Contact Illinois family law attorney Ronald L. Bell at 847-495-6000 for answers to your questions.