What is good for the household is not always beneficial for the individual. For example, when you agree that it makes more sense to stay home and take care of the kids than it does to pay for childcare for three children, you lose out on your future earning potential and accept delaying or even needing to restart your career.
Staying home with your children also means that you don’t have any income or assets to call your own, making you feel completely dependent on your spouse. In a situation like that, filing for divorce can seem impossible. How can someone without a job support themselves, let alone pay for an attorney?
Thankfully, family law in New Jersey has protections in place for spouses who prioritize the welfare of their family over their own career. You can ask for certain kinds of support when you file for divorce.
Child support is an automatic obligation when your children are young
If your children are still minors enrolled in school or if they are older but have permanent disabilities that leave them dependent on you, the New Jersey courts will typically order child support when you file for divorce.
In situations involving older children with special needs, you may have to file paperwork, but for families with younger children, child support is an automatic obligation. The courts will look at the income of both parents, the number of children and the custody arrangements when setting amounts for child support.
Dependent spouses can ask for alimony
When you left work to take care of your household’s needs, you sacrificed income and future earning potential to support your ex’s career. You may be able to ask the courts for alimony or spousal support.
Alimony involves routine payments that may last either for a specific duration or for the rest of your life. Permanent alimony typically only occurs in marriages that have lasted decades and where one spouse truly cannot support themselves. Rehabilitative or temporary alimony is much more common and can be a short-term form of support while you go back to school or restart your career.
The New Jersey courts may order your ex to pay for the attorney you hire
If you are a dependent spouse, you don’t have to forgo legal representation. In some cases, the New Jersey courts will approve a request to have your spouse be the one who pays your attorney costs.
Exploring all of your options for support can make filing for divorce more accessible to those who have stayed home to care for their families.