Down through the years many a man has dreamed of being a stay-at-home Dad (SAHD), and in recent decades that dream job has become much more attainable. Based on the 2010 census, cites around 190,000 SAHDs. But as a SAHD, when your wife wants a divorce, what happens to you and your kids? What rights do you have? What rights must you protect?

Four Major Issues in Divorce

The SAHD in Virginia must look at four major issues in divorce:

  1. Property Settlement
  2. Spousal Support
  3. Child Custody
  4. Child Support

Fortunately for Virginia’s SAHDs, those four issues can be like holding four aces in your poker hand. The Commonwealth’s updated, modernized Code of Virginia does not allow judges to defer to mothers over fathers in any aspect of family law, so you both start on equal footing in every decision.

You and your attorney can easily document your role as a modern SAHD:

  • Your children’s school records
  • Your children’s and your own medical records
  • Family photo albums
  • Videos
  • Depositions from neighbors, extended family, and regular visitors to your home

Simple questions—who scheduled routine appointments for the kids, who did the grocery shopping, who changed most of the diapers—can also create your credentials as a SAHD.

And, as a well-established SAHD before your wife files for divorce, you have solid grounds to get everything you need to continue providing a safe, financially stable home for your kids.

Ace of Spades: Property Settlement

As a SAHD, you made the family house a true home to your children. The law does not pass judgment on your culinary or clothes-washing skills. It cares only that someone—in your case, you—provided for your kids’ basic needs:

  • Safe, habitable shelter
  • Nutritious foods and healthy beverages
  • Sanitary, indoor plumbing for proper hygiene
  • Properly fitting clothes appropriate to gender, age, and activities
  • A bed for every child

That family home is steeped in memories and traditions. You have probably already scrawled height measurements on a door frame somewhere in the home.

During negotiations for a Property Settlement Agreement (also called a separation agreement), you and your family law attorney have to work skillfully to preserve that family home so the kids enjoy stability and continuity.

As the stay-at-home parent of record, you deserve to win the pot, to receive the family home.

Ace of Diamonds: Spousal Support

Virginia Code § 20-107.1 shines a light on the intangible benefits a stay-at-home parent brings to a family. A judge is expected to consider all this:

  • The contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, of each party to the well-being of the family;
  • The earning capacity, including the skills, education and training of the parties and the present employment opportunities for persons possessing such earning capacity;
  • The opportunity for, ability of, and the time and costs involved for a party to acquire the appropriate education, training and employment to obtain the skills needed to enhance his earning ability;
  • The decisions regarding employment, career, economics, education and parenting arrangements made by the parties during the marriage and their effect on present and future earning potential, including the length of time one or both of the parties have been absent from the job market

You and your wife planned for you to stay at home so her career could blossom, and your children could have good parenting. You cannot be punished for that mutual decision, so she should pay spousal support.

Ace of Hearts: Child Custody

With you being on record as a SAHD, your wife has extremely limited grounds to argue for full custody of your children after divorce. At the most, she could request joint custody (having the children roughly 50 percent of the time) but will probably have to settle for shared custody (having the children far less than 50 percent of the time).

You, on the other hand, have clear and articulable grounds for getting full custody of the children with your ex-wife having visitation rights.

Ace of Clubs: Child Support

Again, turning to Virginia Code, you have the ace regarding child support. Under Virginia Code § 20-107.2 you and your attorney must advocate for financial support, including health care coverage, for your minor children. You are advocating to receive money not for yourself, but on behalf of your children. After all, until you can regain job skills, land a job, work out childcare, and build up a strong financial foundation, you need your ex-wife’s help paying for all your children’s needs:

  • Back to school supplies
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Food and beverages
  • Extracurricular events and clubs
  • Vacations

The lists are endless and the needs are constant. Expect your attorney to push hard for equitable child support, to compel your ex-wife to make monthly payments to provide for your children.

Kings Over Queens

You may have four aspects of divorce working in your favor but you cannot assume anything. In a divorce as a stay at home dad, you are battling not just for yourself but for your kids, so protect your winning hand: get the best family law attorney you can afford.

You know your wife will, and she could think a queen beats a king.

The Firm For Men is committed to assisting Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law. We want to help you preserve your rights, protect your financial freedom, and maintain your relationships with your children. Contact us online today or call us at (757) 383-9184 to learn more about our work for divorce, child custody, and spousal support.