A Stay-at-Home Mom's Guide to Divorce

You made a choice to be a stay-at-home mom. While you had to make sacrifices to stay home with your kids, you and your spouse believed it was the best thing for everyone, especially your children. Even though it meant that you would give up your own work and be financially dependent for a while, you trusted that everything would work for the best.

Now, divorce is your new reality. You may be feeling angry or betrayed. You may not know where you will live or how you will take care of yourself and your kids. To top it off, you may be wondering how you’ll be able to afford a divorce with no money of your own.

Divorce is rocky for anyone, let alone someone who has given up a career to focus on being a parent. Take a deep breath. You can and will survive. Let us help you navigate this from a place of strength and preparedness.

A litigated divorce is expensive. If you work with a law firm and hire a divorce lawyer, you will have to pay an expensive retainer on top of other legal fees. Hello Divorce offers flat-rate online divorce plans designed specifically to save you both money and stress.

Logistical challenges

Will you and your kids have to move out of the marital home, or will you be able to stay there? How will you afford living expenses without your own income?

As part of your divorce settlement, you and your ex must divide your marital assets, including your home. While it’s impossible to literally split a house, there may be several options available to you. And property division may leave you with some critical financial resources.

If you're on speaking terms and able to cooperate with your soon-to-be ex, you may benefit from a divorce mediator who can help you navigate these logistical issues in a way that works for both of you. If not, you will need to get legal advice of your own. This may take the form of a collaborative divorce (read more about that here) or a litigated divorce.

Suggested: 6 Steps to Take before You Begin Divorce Mediation

Financial challenges

As a stay-at-home parent, you may have given up your own career to stay home with your kids. And you may have been out of the workforce long enough to be worried about getting a job in the current market. Or, you may not have worked at all before you had kids. 

Now, your financial situation is in question. How will you be able to care for yourself and your kids without a job? Getting the advice of a divorce financial analyst can be money well spent. A certified divorce financial planner can help you understand your resources, needs, and potential options so you can meet these financial challenges. 

Your soon-to-be ex will be required to help you care for and financially support your kids. Because you’re not working, you may also be awarded temporary spousal support for a period of time. But be prepared. Even though you stayed home full-time with the kids during your marriage, you will probably need to get a job – part-time or full-time –  or enroll in school or job retraining so you can become self-supporting. 

Emotional challenges

Going through a divorce takes an emotional toll on everyone. It can be particularly difficult for someone who has been dependent on their ex for many things. 

Such dependency can leave you feeling vulnerable. You are trying to navigate co-parenting and financial issues as well as the overwhelm of life as a single parent. And, you’re undoubtedly trying to maintain a sense of calm and normalcy for the kids while looking after your own well-being.

In short, you may be feeling tired. Afraid. Angry. And alone. But we’re here to tell you – after years of helping others travel a similar path – that this will pass. It won’t last forever. In the meantime, you have options. There is help.

It will be overwhelming for a while, but you will find your way. 


Consider your future living arrangements

Can you stay in your home? That depends. Your home is a marital asset that needs to be divided. You and your soon-to-be ex will have to decide how to split the value of your home and whether one of you stays. 

When left to the courts, a judge will typically allow the person with primary physical custody of the kids to stay in the family house to provide continuity and stability for them. Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible for you to stay in your home, but it may not be financially feasible.

Your best option may be to sell the home and split the proceeds of the sale. In this case, you’re more likely to come away with financial resources for a place of your own. It will allow for a fresh start in a new living space post-divorce, and it may help financially. Moving may also allow you to be closer to family or friends for additional support.

Become financially savvy

For the sake of your financial future, study your financial documents. Develop a clear understanding of your assets, liabilities, and any current sources of income so you can develop a budget with a firm understanding of what your expenses will be.

If you become the primary custodial parent, you’ll probably be entitled to child support from your ex. Alimony, or spousal support, may also be awarded to you temporarily. Some types of alimony will allow you to go back to school or get additional job training to become more employable. But, bottom line, most courts will want you to go to work unless there is a special need for you to stay home. 

A litigated divorce is expensive. If you work with a law firm and hire a divorce lawyer, you will have to pay an expensive retainer on top of other legal fees. Hello Divorce offers flat-rate online divorce plans  designed specifically to save you both money and stress.

Polish your resume

Looking for a job after staying at home can be scary. Giving your resume some TLC and using friends and family as resources can help. You might create profiles on, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter to network and get access to job boards that interest you. 

Today, there are many remote and gig opportunities that can help you bridge the gap until you can get your work and financial life squared away.

Learn your divorce options

Think you can’t afford a divorce? Not all divorces have to be expensive. If you and your soon-to-be ex can work together cooperatively, you may be able to use a divorce mediator or online divorce option that is less contentious and costly. Every state also offers legal aid to divorcing individuals who cannot afford it. 

A divorce coach can walk you through the divorce process step-by-step and help you understand your options based on your unique circumstances. 

Get support

Divorce is scary, but you’re not alone. There are many others who are going through (or have gone through) a divorce as stay-at-home parents. These others may offer guidance, understanding, and a shoulder to cry on. 

Consider professional help, too. A divorce therapist may help you resolve the feelings of anger, betrayal, and overwhelm that you’re experiencing right now. Think of your mental health as a building block for all other things, including your physical health and the well-being of your kids.

Reach out to friends, family, and online groups. Once you start sharing with others, you’ll feel less alone and realize that there is life beyond this current emotional turmoil you’re going through. 

Before you know it, you will be actively creating a happier and healthier life for both your kids and yourself. And you will feel the sense of pride that comes from taking care of yourself and prevailing after adversity.

Divorce is complicated. If you haven’t been in the work world for a while, it can be especially daunting.  At Hello Divorce, we can help. We offer online access to professional services and resources to help you understand your rights and options as a stay-at-home parent navigating divorce. Contact us to schedule a free 15-minute consultation


Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.