Divorcing an Unemployed Spouse? 5 Things to Know

Are you considering divorce from a spouse who is currently unemployed? While employment or unemployment doesn't directly affect your ability to file for and complete a divorce, it does affect a number of things. Here are a few key points to know about divorcing a spouse who doesn't work. 

1. You Can Keep Costs Down

If one spouse isn't working, they may be more motivated to agree to keep down the direct costs of the divorce. If the two of you can come to agreements about the key factors, such as custody and division of assets, you can hash out much of the arrangement on your own or with a mediator. This often benefits both spouses and any children. 

2. Length of Unemployment Matters

Generally, the court can consider your unique situation when determining things like spousal support (and sometimes, division of assets). Unemployment is one factor it will consider. However, the length of that unemployment also matters. A stay-at-home spouse who hasn't worked in years is more likely to receive additional assistance than one who only recently lost their job. 

3. State Rules Vary

Your state's rules covering divorce affect how assets are divided and how support is calculated. Each state handles these a little differently, so it's important to understand them. For example, in states which follow the community property standard, marital assets are generally divided equally. However, a state with common law rules assigns ownership to the person on the deed or title. This may make things more complex for those who aren't the family breadwinner. 

4. Courts Dislike Spiteful Unemployment

Did your spouse quit their job because they don't want to pay support? Are they refusing to look for other work, causing a breakdown in your marriage? Do they hope that unemployment will net them higher spousal support? Quitting and/or staying voluntarily unemployed will not win a spouse points with the judge. If you can show this to the court, you could save significant money in the agreement. 

5. Helping a Spouse Has Benefits

Although few people enjoy paying support or seeing a higher division of assets, it's not all bad. If the arrangement means your ex-spouse can earn a living wage on their own, you'll have fewer potential future problems. Share children? It's good for the kids when both parents have sufficient income and don't argue over financial issues. And, in some cases, helping your unemployed spouse get on their feet may be a minimal cost for being able to move on with divorce at this time. 

Where to Learn More

How will the unemployment of your spouse affect your particular case? What are the rules that apply in your state? And how can you ensure the best outcome? Start by learning more in consultation with a divorce lawyer in your state today.  

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