What Are The Rights Of Stay-At-Home Dads?

You’re a stay-at-home father. The reason behind your decision? Perhaps your wife was at the pinnacle of her career after your child was born and it made sense. Perhaps you fell on hard times and your wife got a job before you.

Or, perhaps your wife was earning twice as much as you, and she asked you to give up your job so at least one of you could raise your children. Whatever your reason, stay-at-home parents are wonderful, but they face challenges when their marriages end.

You have been out of the workforce for years while raising your kids and now you’re getting a divorce. Where does that leave you? Will you be barred from receiving child custody, child support, and spousal support because you ARE a man?

California is a very progressive state and the state’s child custody, child support, and spousal support laws are now gender neutral – but this is the case across the country. True, twenty years ago family courts nationwide gave mothers preferential treatment in divorces, but that’s no longer the case. In other words, your chances of receiving custody, child support, and spousal support are the same as they are for a stay-at-home mom.

All Divorces Are Unique

We must remember that all divorces are handled on a case-by-case basis and no two divorces are identical. So, will you get primary custody of the kids? Will your wife have to pay you child and spousal support? It depends on the following factors:

  • The length of your marriage.
  • The age and health of you and your wife.
  • Your children’s ages.
  • Your earning capacity.
  • Your property settlement agreement.
  • The child custody arrangement.
  • Your wife’s child custody wishes.
  • You wish for child custody.
  • Your need for spousal support.
  • Your wife’s ability to pay spousal support.

If you are seeking primary custody of the children and your wife is trying to get sole custody or joint physical custody, a judge is going to have to step in and decide for you both. If you’re trying to get the kids most of the time and your wife is a stable loving mother, the courts are inclined to encourage a shared custody arrangement.

Child support is pretty black and white. Whoever has the kids for more overnight visits throughout the year is typically the parent to receive child support. As far as spousal support, this is NOT automatic and is very fact specific. If you don’t have a college degree and you’ve been out of the workforce for a long time, your chances of receiving spousal support are higher.

On the other hand, if you’re college-educated, in good health, and your kids are in school, you may receive spousal support but only on a temporary basis. The judge may suggest that you start dusting off your resume and shopping for a new suit. However, the exact same considerations would be taken into account for a stay-at-home mom as well.