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Divorce and Stay-at-Home Moms: 
What You Need to Know in Georgia

by Sharon Jackson  on April 4, 2024 under ,

Stay-at-home mothers do not have to feel as though they must remain in a failing marriage, especially if their health, mental well-being, or safety is at risk. Though it can seem frightening, especially if you have not worked in a long time, to leave the financial stability present, there are a variety of reasons to still move forward. At Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC, we work closely with stay-at-home moms in Georgia who are ready to leave a marriage no matter the circumstances and provide the best path forward for their family.

Financial Realities of Divorce for Stay-at-Home Moms: Understanding Spousal Support

A stay-at-home parent has rights in a divorce, and that often includes spousal support. While the spouse may be the wage earner in the marriage, the money earned during the marriage is a part of the household income. In most divorce cases, these parents are still entitled to an equitable share of the marital estate. That includes spousal support for the length of time the court determines. Equitable does not mean half. It means fair. The courts will first consider if your husband has the ability to pay and then consider if you have a financial need for financial support.

If your spouse has managed the money for a long time, knowing what is yours and what your rights are can seem terrifying.  Our divorce attorneys will work very closely with you to reduce the risk that you do not receive what is fairly owed to you.

Spousal support in Georgia is awarded based on various factors, including:

  • Whether or not you have a job at all
  • If you have job skills
  • Your education
  • Your ability to obtain a job
  • Your health and age
  • The standard of living you have had
  • The spouse’s income and earnings

Spousal support does not have a simple calculation in Georgia. Rather, you can expect that all of these factors will be weighed before any decisions are made.

Understanding Your Rights and Options: Division of Assets and Debts in Divorce with Children

Whether you are facing a high-asset divorce or a high-debt divorce, as a partner in the marriage, assets and debts are likely to be split between you and your spouse. That does not always mean equally. A judge will consider all factors related to the situation and then determine the best route to proceed, creating a clear financial path forward.

If you don’t have an income and your husband has historically paid all of the bills, it might be possible for us to ask the judge to require him to be solely responsible for all of the debt. However, the judge might also give the income earning spouse credit for paying off the debt by offsetting some of the assets that you would otherwise receive.

If you established a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage, it is a legal contract that will be reviewed to determine what you agreed to regarding child support, spousal support, and even division of assets in case you divorce. 

Even with children, you will need to determine the best route for the division of assets. This could be allowing you to remain in the home with your children or receiving spousal support, or both. In other situations, the court will determine whether the home should be sold, and the debt and assets split equitably. The details of your financial situation play the biggest role in what occurs.

Stay at home moms in Georgia need a family law attorney who will protect your rights and your family. 

Custody Arrangements When You're a Stay-at-Home Mom: Finding a Balanced and Flexible Solution

Another core component that may be a large part of your divorce is child custody. Where will the child live after the divorce, and who will make decisions about the child? In most cases, the court prefers for both parents to have the ability to maintain a relationship with the children. Even if your spouse has never cared for the children, the court may still want to provide that opportunity to be an involved parent in most cases, and award parenting time to the non-custodial parent.

Can I get full custody because I was a stay at home mom?

There are many factors that will determine where the child will live as their permanent residence and the division of parenting time. One parent will rarely obtain full custody. In most cases, both parents will share joint legal custody. Georgia has strong legal protection for the fundamental right of a parent to parent his child. In order for the courts to revoke these rights or impede them, you would have to show significant issues with the parent that presents a major danger or potential harm to the child. Neither you or your husband are required to be perfect parents. In most cases, the court awards joint legal custody and some type of parenting schedule that allows the children to primarily live with one parent but have regularly scheduled parenting time with the non-custodial parent.

Legal custody is just a basic right of the parent to be included in and involved in major decisions about the child. In Georgia this refers to health, education, religion, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody is where the child will live most of the time.

Stay at home mothers should think carefully before agreeing to  50/50 parenting time with complete shared physical and shared legal custody. If you have been the primary parent and primary decision maker for the child, this should not change overnight because you are getting a divorce. It may also affect the amount of child support that you receive. Talk to an experienced divorce attorney to explore the healthy ways to co-parent without making drastic changes or giving up critical rights and decision making authority that you may not be thinking about immediately during the separation and divorce. 

Other times, there are very specific arrangements designed to meet the needs of all parties. Full custody, when it is in the best interest of the child, typically will include the ability to make decisions for the child about health, education, and religion. Depending on your situation, this is something you want to fight for, and ensure the court understands your position.

To determine custody, the court will decide what is in the best interests of the child and is likely to consider factors such as:

  • The history of the daily parenting duties and who did what before the divorce
  • The parents' knowledge and understanding of the child’s needs
  • Any special needs or disabilities the child may have
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • Any past or current substance abuse by either parent
  • The support system and tribe available to the parent to help raise the child
  • The age of the children and their voice in what they desire
  • The financial health of both parents
  • The type of environment the child will have
  • Any past or current concerns about abuse
  • The type of relationship the parent has now with the child
  • The way the divorce or moving will impact the child’s well-being and future, including education and social aspects

There is no way to predict what will occur in your situation until you meet with an experienced Georgia family law and divorce attorney to discuss the intimate details of your case. However, it is fair to say that, as a stay-at-home mom, you must consider that the court will want the child to have access to their other parent to some degree.

Impact of Divorce on Child Support Calculations: How Being a Stay-at-Home Mom May Affect Your Entitlement

In a court of law, the goal of child support is to require that both parties contribute to the child’s well-being. Typically, the amount of child support received is based on the combined income of both parents. If you are not working, that means there is no income to report for you, and that means that you could get a lower amount of child support. However, unless you are completely disabled, the court will usually say that you are at least capable of making the minimum wage for your state and will input that amount of monthly income to you when calculating child support.

With spousal support, the court is looking at and considering all of the facts. You could receive child support if you have been the stay-at-home parent raising your child while your spouse works. The question is, how much? For that, your divorce attorney needs more insight into what your needs are to protect your family’s future.

How A Georgia Family Lawyer Will Fight to Protect Your Rights As A Stay At Home Mother

As a stay-at-home parent you need to have an advocate working just for you, an attorney who can work to protect your rights and create the best possible route forward for your well-being. Work with Attorney Sharon Jackson LLC. Let our divorce attorney offer guidance, insight into what you can expect in terms of spousal and child support, and how to petition the court for what you desire to occur.

Call us at (678) 436-3636 to schedule a consultation with an experienced member of our team, or contact us online to speak with our metro Atlanta family lawyers.

Fears that keep mothers from leaving a bad marriage.
Call us today at (678)436-3636 to discuss your fears and how we can help you overcome them.

  • Fear of losing custody of the children because you do not have a job or because your spouse makes more money
  • Fear of being forced to immediately sell the home and becoming homeless
  • Fear of not having a vehicle because everything is in his name


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