Deciding to end your marriage is a process often fraught with emotions and serious social concerns. This is particularly true for spouses who decided to stay home during the marriage. Whether you focused on raising your children or simply needed to devote full-time attention to maintaining your home or ranch, deciding to divorce without a source of income can become a terrifying prospect.
After all, your lack of an income could impact custody decisions. You could find yourself effectively homeless, especially in cases where your spouse worked and lived on a family ranch or farm.
The good news is that you may qualify to receive spousal support when you file for divorce. The bad news is that in some cases, getting fair compensation is difficult. Especially in cases of families living on ranches or farms that are owned by an extended family, putting a fair value on both assets and income (including non-financial income like free rent) can be very complicated. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to spousal support. It is always determined on a case-by-case basis.
Spousal support is a possibility during and after your divorce
Montana and its courts recognize the substantial contributions that non-wage-earning spouses contribute to a household. Unpaid labor, such as cooking, cleaning, handling finances and social obligations and raising children is one of the most valuable things a person can contribute to a family. Doing so can leave the person providing in-home support vulnerable financially.
It can be very difficult to go back to work after years away from a career. Earning potential will be decreased. If you are over the age of 40, you could very well face age discrimination in the search for employment.
That doesn't mean you should just stay in a bad marriage because you don't have other options. Montana law makes it clear that those who are unable to support themselves because they stayed home during marriage may receive spousal support, which used to get called alimony. The courts look at a variety of factors when determining if they will order spousal support, as well as the amount of support.
Factors include the non-working spouse's ability to earn a wage, his or her emotional and mental state, the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage and even the marital children.
If you have special needs children, or a large number of children whose childcare costs could quickly eclipse your ability to retain any of your wages, that can help your case for spousal support. So can emotional issues that resulted from abuse in your marriage. While every situation is different, if you aren't working and want a divorce after many years of marriage, you may very well qualify for spousal support when you decide to divorce.