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What can stay-at-home parents expect to get during divorce?

Among all the concerns swimming in your head when considering or going through divorce, one of the most frightening is finances, especially if your spouse is the breadwinner of the household. What will you be left with? Will your quality of life drop significantly?

Luckily, even if you are a stay-at-home parent without an income, you can still receive a share of your spouse's assets. Virginia courts operate under equitable distribution, which means they divide property based on what is fair for each spouse's circumstance.

Though everything must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, here are the basics of four financial aspects of divorce:

1. Bank accounts

Despite your spouse being the only source of income for the family, you are entitled to a share of joint bank accounts. If your name is on an account or you contributed to its value, the account is considered marital property and will likely be divided between the two of you.

It is important to prepare thoroughly for divorce by examining all aspects of you and your spouse's assets. If you do not know the bigger picture of the family's finances, you cannot effectively pursue your fair share.

2. Spouse's business

If your spouse owns a business, a few things may happen in divorce.

First, if the business was created before you were married and you did not contribute to it in any way during the marriage, you likely will not receive any ownership or share of its value.

However, if you did contribute any amount of investment or labor to the business, it may be considered marital property. Your spouse might choose to sell the business and give you part of the value, or they may offer other assets to make up for keeping the business.

3. Debt

In many cases, debt will be considered marital property that is divided between the two parties. Debt is marital property if it was accrued during the marriage, such as through a shared credit card, or if you contributed to it in any other way.

A couple instances in which debt may not be divided include debt that was accrued before marriage and that you never affected it during the marriage, or debt that is linked to an account that does not have your name associated with it.

4. Spousal support

Eligibility for spousal support is based primarily on each party's income or earning capacity. Though it cannot be expected from every case, it is very common for stay-at-home parents to receive spousal support while they focus on entering the workforce again.

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