Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. have noticed that more and more women seem to be stay-at-home moms. Recent studies have shown that approximately 29 percent of moms in the United States stay at home to raise their children. Although there are a lot of benefits from being a stay-at-home mom, the disadvantages can become very evident during a Florida Family Law divorce.
Florida Statute § 61.075 makes it clear that Florida is an equitable distribution state. As an equitable distribution state, the court is guided by principles of equity which means that both the husband and wife should be treated in a fair manner when dividing assets and liabilities. In most cases, the parties should leave the marriage with a similar amount of their marital assets – so this can be a disadvantage to stay-at-home moms.
In determining how disadvantaged a stay-at-hone mom may be in a particular Florida divorce case, our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators look at several important factors which include: 1) the size of the marital estate, 2) the amount of liquid marital assets, 3) the earning history of the Husband during the marriage, and 4) the earning capability of the Wife.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators have seen that when there is a very large marital estate that also has a significant amount of liquid marital assets, a stay-at-home mom is able to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement agreement with respect to marital assets. In this type of a large marital estate, the Husband usually earns a significant income, so alimony is also a consideration.
According to § 61.08, the purpose of an alimony award is to assist a spouse in maintaining the standard of living that she was used to during the marriage as well as to help the individual get back on her feet. The duration of the marriage is also an important factor in determining alimony. In Florida, a marriage of less than 7 years is deemed to be a “short-term” marriage, 7-17 years is a medium-term marriage and more than 17 years is long-term. These distinctions can matter a great deal when it comes to divorce issues like alimony.
In addition, Florida courts must decide whether one spouse has a need and the other spouse has the ability to pay alimony. In a scenario where there is a stay-at-home mom and the parties have minimal assets to divide, there clearly may be a need, but if the Husband makes a minimal income – there may not be an ability to pay alimony. So, in order to survive on her own, the Wife will have to become employed. This is one of the more difficult types of mediations for our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators because the Wife will have a lot of uncertainty about what her future holds – especially if she has been out of the workforce for a large number of years.
If you are a stay-at-home mom and considering divorce, you should consider all of your options.