Written by Jonathan Breeden
It finally happened; you hit your breaking point. Now, you know your relationship is toxic, and you need to get out of it. You need to separate from your spouse.
As a stay-at-home spouse, what you do next is extremely important. The decisions you make about where you will live, the financial support you receive, and the amount you contribute will have a lasting impact on your post-separation life.
At the Breeden Law Office, we see many people in North Carolina make mistakes when separating from their spouse because they don’t have a realistic view of what’s next. To avoid these mistakes, here is some helpful information about separations for stay-at-home spouses in North Carolina. If you need further help, it’s best to work with an experienced and trusted separation attorney.
As a stay-at-home spouse, the first thing you have to consider when you are thinking about separating is where you will live. Will you stay in your shared home and have your spouse leave? Or will it be you who leaves and moves into a new home?
The biggest mistake we see is spouses who know they need to leave the relationship but do not know where they will go or if the other person will leave. They also are worried about what their budget is going to be.
The most important question is the budget. Whether you are staying in your home or leaving, you need to have a detailed budget that accounts for everything you need after you have separated. Consider rent, electricity, water, food costs for yourself and the children, and any other expenses.
Spouses who did not work but stayed at home to maintain the household and care for the children often do not have a substantial income. So, if the wage-earning spouse leaves, you could find yourself without any money coming in to pay the bills.
That is why North Carolina allows for post-separation support. This works just like alimony or spousal support. It is the amount of money your wage-earning spouse will have to pay you every month to ensure that your separation does not unfairly impact your income and lifestyle.
Remember that your spouse is allowed to pay their bills at their new home before they can be obligated to pay you post-separation support. That means the payments you receive may not fully cover all your expenses unless your spouse earns enough to do so.
Often, stay-at-home spouses have at least partial custody of the children. Under North Carolina law, your spouse may be obligated to pay you child support money to help you care for the children — even in a separation before a divorce is finalized.
The amount you receive will be determined by a few factors, such as the following:
You may be able to get some child support and some alimony, but this is often not enough to cover all the living expenses you will have after your separation. Our attorneys estimate that it typically costs at least 40% more for couples to live separately than it does for them to live together. If the money is not going to come together in a livable way for you, you need to plan for that.
In this situation, many stay-at-home spouses start to consider ways to supplement the money they will receive from their ex after the separation. Think about jobs you could get, side income you could create, going back to school on student loans, or any other way that you could bring in a little more money each month.
Your finances after separating as a stay-at-home spouse are likely to be tricky. Luckily, you do not have to face this alone. An experienced North Carolina separation attorney can help you fight for a fair amount of child support and alimony from your wage-earning spouse, so you can continue living comfortably after your separation.