Unemployed and stay-at-home parents are extremely vulnerable during a divorce. While laws vary by jurisdiction, the decision to award spousal support typically rests in the judge’s hands. If the judge is sympathetic, they use discretion to order the working spouse to provide the unemployed spouse with income after a divorce.
During the Divorce Process
Judges seldom force spouses to find employment while the divorce is pending. In most cases, state law preserves the couple’s monetary status quo during the process. The wage-earning spouse must keep paying the bills so the marital estate’s collateral isn’t lost. If a spouse has no job, the judge will likely order temporary support so basic expenses can be paid.
The Non-Working Spouse’s Employability
No one has a right to spousal support after a divorce, and whether a person gets it may depend on the reason for their unemployment. If someone has never worked and has no marketable skills, the judge is more likely to make a support order than if they had a degree that they chose not to use. If the working spouse has hired a divorce law firm in Sycamore, the lawyer may ask the court to require the nonworking spouse to take a vocational assessment. The test measures the spouse’s employable skills and earning potential, and the results typically guide a judge’s support decisions. Most family court judges expect unemployed spouses to contribute to their own support.
If a spouse is young, a judge may order temporary or rehabilitative support. This spousal support order provides the unemployed spouse with the income necessary to return to school or develop employable skills. If someone has job skills but hasn’t used them because the other spouse’s income made it so they didn’t have to work, temporary support provides help until the spouse can find work in his or her field.
Family court judges usually award long-term support to older spouses following a marriage of more than ten years. Long-term support usually lasts until the receiver remarries or the paying spouse passes away. It’s more common when a spouse has devoted his or her entire life to raising a family and they’ve reached an age where they can’t realistically be expected to learn new career skills.