In recent years, it is increasingly common to see one parent stay at home with the children, at least until they reach school age.
This is often out of necessity rather than desire. Many couples cannot afford to have one parent stay at home, but with the high cost of childcare, other couples have to, to offset the added expense. However, becoming a stay-at-home parent often has added costs for the one staying at home. Stay-at-home moms and dads sacrifice their careers, not just in the moment, but in the future, because employers may hesitate to hire those out of the workforce for long periods. They also, in many cases, sacrifice financial independence and pride. As a result, it is natural for them to worry during a divorce.
New Jersey follows equitable distribution
One common concern is that stay-at-home parents because they did not work, may be at a disadvantage during property distribution. Judges divide marital assets based on equity, not equality, and they consider the time and labor that stay-at-home parents put into the marriage when determining what is fair. This means that stay-at-home parents still receive something for their contribution even if they did not contribute financially.
Stay-at-home parents may need to get a job
The state does award alimony. However, the amount granted in recent years is less than in previous years as there exists an expectation that stay-at-home parents are capable of finding employment. The amount of alimony may not be sufficient for an individual to live off of. This depends on the duration of the marriage and other factors.
Courts generally do not leave stay-at-home parents destitute after a divorce. They acknowledge that child rearing and housekeeping are contributions as well. Stay-at-home parents do need to prepare for life after divorce though as alimony may not be enough for them to remain at home.