A more challenging employment market and an evolving family dynamic have undoubtedly played a part in the steady increase of fathers who stay at home as full-time parents. In the year 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded at least 250,000 men who carried this title. For stay-at-home dads who are facing divorce, this scenario can create a complex situation.
Every Situation Is Different
Stay-at-home dads are often painted with a broad-brush. However, according to an article from Journalist’s Resource, there are distinct categories that define these men, based on motivation and circumstances.
Voluntary Stay-At-Home Dads
The father that falls within this category could be defined as an individual with the education and experience for gainful employment. However, he has voluntarily exited the job market to focus his interests and efforts solely on his children, making his desire to serve his children his motivator.
Non-Working Stay-At-Home Dads
A non-working stay-at-home dad is typically a father who has assumed the role out of circumstance. Within this group, you might find someone with less competitive skills, a reduced income potential or some other limitation, such as a physical impairment that has made finances their motivator for staying home. You might also find someone within this group who just simply chooses not to work and inadvertently earns this title.
Motivation Does Matter
Motivation is sometimes important in a divorce because it can often be directly related to finances. For instance, a voluntary stay-at-home dad might have a difficult time arguing a case for spousal support. However, a non-working stay-at-home dad who has assumed the role to avoid the high cost of childcare and as a result has less marketable skills might have less of a challenge. Motivation can also influence child custody decisions as the courts may use this to highlight the role the father plays in the child’s life.
For the health and well-being of a child, an equal focus from both mother and father is critical. For this reason, a father who holds the title of stay-at-home parent should never feel as though this will be used against them during the divorce proceedings. The legal system values the role of each parent equally and will pass down a decision based solely on the welfare of the child, not the gender of the parent. However, to protect you and your relationship with your child, you may want to enlist an experienced attorney.