What are my rights if I’m a stay at home dad and my wife wants a divorce?

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What are my rights if I’m a stay at home dad and my wife wants a divorce?

My wife of 2 years recently informed me that she wants a divorce. I don’t have any income right now and the house and car are in her name. We have a 1 year old beautiful baby girl and 2 step children, hers from her 1st marriage. What are my rights? Can she kick me out of the house and do I have any claim to the property or vehicle? The house was hers before we got married. I’m not really sure what to do

Asked on October 1, 2012 under Family Law, Illinois

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have several different questions and concerns....and your rights will vary by child and the origin of the property.

You will have equal rights to your daughter.  If you want to have custody of your daughter, then you will need to try to get a job and set up housing for you and her -- this will demonstrate that you can parent on your own.  You will not have any visitation rights for the step-children since they are not your biological children.

The second issue is the residence.  Any property that she aquired before the marriage will be considered her separate property-- which means that she will get to keep the house if it was hers prior to the marriage.  What determines whether something is community or separate property depends on when it was aquired-- not the name on the title.  If the car was aquired during the marriage, you could assert a claim to the car, even though in her name.  The same rules would apply for any other assets aquired during the marriage.

Even though you would not have a direct claim to the house, if you made major monetary contributions to the house, then you may have a right to reimbursement.  For example, if you have paid the taxes for the last two years and helped with major improvements, you may be able to get some of the funds that you invested back.

Considering that the residence is hers, at some point and time you will have to leave the home.  When one spouse is unemployed, the courts will usually give one spouse some time to find new housing.  Even though you'll have some time, you need to start thinking now about how and when you will relocate.

Considering that you have been a stay at home dad, you may or may not qualify for marital support while you get situated in a new house/apartment.  The courts will look to a variety of factors including opportunitites that the spouse missed as a stay at home parent, the length of the marriage, fault in the divorce, and the earning abilities of both spouses.  If the court does award you spousal support, it would only be for a shorter period considering the limited time frame of your marriage. 

Your first step at this point is to start planning what you're going to do next, making plans to be a good parent for your daughter, and getting funds together to find an family law attorney to help you with the divorce process.

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You have several different questions and concerns....and your rights will vary by child and the origin of the property.

You will have equal rights to your daughter.  If you want to have custody of your daughter, then you will need to try to get a job and set up housing for you and her -- this will demonstrate that you can parent on your own.  You will not have any visitation rights for the step-children since they are not your biological children.

The second issue is the residence.  Any property that she aquired before the marriage will be considered her separate property-- which means that she will get to keep the house if it was hers prior to the marriage.  What determines whether something is community or separate property depends on when it was aquired-- not the name on the title.  If the car was aquired during the marriage, you could assert a claim to the car, even though in her name.  The same rules would apply for any other assets aquired during the marriage.

Even though you would not have a direct claim to the house, if you made major monetary contributions to the house, then you may have a right to reimbursement.  For example, if you have paid the taxes for the last two years and helped with major improvements, you may be able to get some of the funds that you invested back.

Considering that the residence is hers, at some point and time you will have to leave the home.  When one spouse is unemployed, the courts will usually give one spouse some time to find new housing.  Even though you'll have some time, you need to start thinking now about how and when you will relocate.

Considering that you have been a stay at home dad, you may or may not qualify for marital support while you get situated in a new house/apartment.  The courts will look to a variety of factors including opportunitites that the spouse missed as a stay at home parent, the length of the marriage, fault in the divorce, and the earning abilities of both spouses.  If the court does award you spousal support, it would only be for a shorter period considering the limited time frame of your marriage. 

Your first step at this point is to start planning what you're going to do next, making plans to be a good parent for your daughter, and getting funds together to find an family law attorney to help you with the divorce process.


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