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Rights of Unemployed Dads in Divorce

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 2-Jul-2018

In the past, when a couple divorced, it was the mother who usually had custody of the kids and received spousal support. This was especially the case around the year 2000 and prior. Today however, the child custody and spousal support laws across the nation have been rewritten so they are gender neutral.

Why the sweeping change? One of the main reasons is the presence women have in the workforce. Here are some 2017 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor to illustrate:

  • There are over 74 million women in the civilian workforce.
  • Nearly 47 percent of workers in the U.S. are women.
  • Women own nearly 10 million companies.
  • 70 percent of mothers with children under the age of 18 work, with more than 75 percent working full-time.
  • Since 1970, the proportion of women with college degrees has quadrupled. In 1970, only 11 percent of women had college degrees but now more than 40 percent do.

And, here’s the real kicker, “Mothers are the primary or sole earners for 40 percent of households with children under 18 today, compared to 11 percent in 1960,” according to the DOL. So, where does this leave unemployed fathers who are being financially supported by their wives in a divorce?

Men Have Equal Rights in a Divorce

When it comes to the rights of an unemployed husband in a Pennsylvania divorce, he has the same rights as an unemployed wife. As we mentioned earlier, the laws are gender neutral; however, that doesn’t mean society has shifted its mindset to think this way. Still, a lot of people automatically assume that a woman will have more rights in a divorce, but that is no longer the case.

If a woman has been the breadwinner, especially so her husband could be a stay-at-home father, the husband would have the same rights to child custody and child support as a stay-at-home mother. However, there is no guarantee that the father will obtain primary custody, child support, or spousal support – it’s case specific.

Generally, the courts prefer it when husbands and wives work out the terms of their divorce in an amicable fashion. So, if an unemployed father were to seek primary custody and spousal support, he should first try to work it out with his wife. If she were to want a joint custody arrangement and if she opposed paying spousal support, her unemployed husband would have to ask the court for these things.

If a stay-at-home dad were to seek physical custody, child support, and spousal support, his case would be treated the same as an unemployed mother in the same situation. If the breadwinner mother wants a joint custody arrangement and she’s fit, the courts may lean towards a shared custody arrangement where the parents spend almost equal time with their children.

As far as spousal support is concerned, it depends on who gets custody, how the assets are divided, the father’s employability, and the mother’s financial ability to pay spousal support. Even if primary custody and spousal support are awarded, they may be modified at a later date.

Looking for a Pittsburgh divorce lawyer? Contact Cairns Law Offices today.