Divorce Advice if One Spouse Does Not Work

You’re getting divorced, and one of you doesn’t have a job. It’s stressful because, in the midst of this emotional turmoil, you both face high financial uncertainty. One spouse questions how they will pay expenses — including fees related to the divorce process — and the other questions how much they’ll lose in the divorce settlement or how much they’ll have to pay in spousal support and child support.

Financial challenges of divorce

Divorcing spouses may face multiple financial challenges in divorce, especially if only one of them is earning money. Expenses may include filing fees, legal fees, attorney fees, relocation fees, buyout fees, and money needed to establish a new residence and new life.

Filing fees

One of the initial financial challenges in divorce is the filing fee. In some states, the filing fee for an uncontested divorce may only be around $100. However, in other states, it may cost hundreds of dollars just to file a divorce petition.

Attorney fees

An even larger financial challenge in divorce, if you’re working with a law firm, is attorney fees. While not all divorcing spouses require legal representation, if there are significant marital assets or child support or custody issues to resolve, you may need to hire a divorce lawyer to help you navigate these issues.

Divorce attorney fees can easily run into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how long your divorce case takes and how complex your issues are.

Divorce mediation is an excellent alternative to hiring a pricey family law attorney. Read more about how mediation works here.

Relocation costs

You might incur relocation costs during or after divorce. For example, one spouse may decide to move out of the marital home and start over somewhere else. They will incur new living expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments and moving costs.

Additionally, one spouse may decide to continue living on the marital property rather than sell it. In this case, they may have to buy out their former spouse’s share of the property. They may also face the sole responsibility for monthly upkeep and maintenance expenses that were once shared.

Tips for the unemployed spouse facing divorce

You likely feel overwhelmed by everything that’s going on, whether you initiated the divorce or not. There are several things you can do to make your divorce process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Ask the court to waive your court fees

Most state laws provide you with the opportunity to apply for a fee waiver if your income is low. This can help offset some of the other costs associated with divorce.

Seek attorney's fees from your employed spouse

Divorce attorneys cost money. If your spouse were to pay your attorney’s fees for you, you might feel a huge burden lifted. If the divorce is amicable, the two of you might informally agree on this arrangement. If not, you might be able to get a court order requiring your spouse to pay your attorney’s fees.

Ask for spousal support

There is a specific kind of alimony that is paid during divorce proceedings in your type of situation. Spousal support at this delicate time can provide you with a steady source of income and help you get back on your feet.

Tips for the employed spouse facing divorce

As someone facing divorce from an unemployed spouse, there are a number of things for you to understand and consider.

Find out what types of spousal support you might have to pay

Depending on the situation, you may be required to help your soon-to-be ex-spouse shoulder the financial burden of the divorce process. At a minimum, a judge may require you to pay spousal support during divorce proceedings. This is something you may need to budget for, as some divorces take a long time.

If you were married for an extended period, you may be required to pay alimony for many years — or even to provide permanent support. This could impact your finances significantly, so it’s a good idea to prepare now.

Consult a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA)

It may be helpful to consult with a financial planner who is experienced in helping people manage their money during divorce and beyond. A certified divorce financial analyst, or CDFA, is a professional trained to do just that.

Hello Divorce partners with certified divorce financial advisors who can help you set yourself up for financial success after your divorce. Click here to find out how to book a one-hour session.

Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.