Should Weddings Come with a Warning Label? – Part VI – Should I quit work to raise the kids?

Man reading to his kidsIn my last post I continued to lament that many people faced with a divorce would have benefitted from a bit of education on divorce laws even before they got married.  In this post I continue down the aisle….  more things people should know before they utter “I thee wed.”

“Oh Yes, We Plan on Having Children….”  When I hear those words from a future Mom, I generally smile (I love kids!) and then ask, “And do you plan to continue to work after the child is born?”  If the answer is “Yes”, I say nothing more, but if the answer is something like, “No, we feel it is important that the Mother (or Father) stay home and be there for the child….  we don’t want someone else like a babysitter or daycare raising our child(ren)...”I usually make a face (don’t ask me what my face looks like, but whatever it is, it generally causes whoever is looking at me to ask, “Why do you make a face?

My response is usually something like this: “Look, I don’t take a position on whether it’s better for the child to have a stay-at-home parent for their younger years or not.  I’m not a child psychologist and I’m not aware of any definitive studies on the subject.  I view the issue as a divorce attorney and from that perspective, it is undeniable that there are significant consequences when someone stops working and ends their career, or puts it on hold.  It’s a big decision.”

If a parent withdraws from the workforce to raise a child for more than a few months, it is undeniably more difficult to return to the workforce years later.  Returning to the workforce can be a scary experience, even without the advent of a divorce hanging over a spouse.  If the return to the workforce is “forced” upon the stay-at-home parent because of the advent of a divorce, it can add additional stress to the lives of both spouses.  In today’s world things change rapidly.  The position that was left is unlikely to still be open.  New technology, new laws, new techniques, new rules, continuing education requirements, new licensing requirements, etc.all make returning to a former job and/or career challenging.  Often the spouse returning to the workforce is convinced that they can no longer return to their former job and the other spouse, who never stopped working, is just as convinced that their spouse will easily resume their old position/career/job at their former salary or even at a higher level, and the fear of the stay-at-home spouse is not sincere and is really to “get more money” from the working spouse.  All of these are issues that are avoided when a divorce comes along and both parents are working.

What’s the takeaway here?  This is a conversation worth having before you walk down the aisle.

To be continued.…  Join me next time for more on tales of the uninformed when I talk about how it’s not difficult to accidentally convert separate property into marital property.