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Is It Worth Staying in a Marriage If Your Spouse Will Inherit $1 Million?

Injuries to the back and spine can lead to catastrophic consequences. One of these injuries is a spine (or spinal) dislocation. Spinal dislocations are an injury to the ligaments or bones of your spine, which causes the vertebrae to move out of place.When stay-at-home parents contact our firm with questions about going through divorce and wanting to ensure that they will be financially secure for the future, they can be difficult and tricky to answer without knowing the couple’s unique background story. Most of the time, one spouse has decided to make their life about taking care of the children, while the other spouse goes to work and brings in the paychecks to cover the bills.

The reason that they may be contemplating divorce is because they both may have changed, developed different wants and needs, and decided that this is their only option forward. While this may seem like an easy and clear-cut decision, the spouse who has spent years being a stay-at-home parent often begins to worry and stress about their future and wanting to make sure that they will be financially taken care of until they can get on their feet. The courts can be tough on parents who give up their careers to raise a family, and some folks wonder if they should stick it out if they know something “good” is coming.

We saw an example of this in a MarketWatch advice column recently. A woman explained that she gave up her career to raise the kids but neither she nor her husband had been happy in a long time. Her husband’s father was ill, and her husband was set to inherit a million dollars when his father passed. So, the woman asked, what should she do: seek the divorce now, or wait it out in the hopes of securing a portion of that inheritance when her father-in-law died?

What should the stay-at-home parent do in this situation?

If you are a stay-at-home parent thinking about filing for divorce, it is important to first know that divorce is always a very hard and devastating experience. Since you are currently financially dependent on your spouse, you should be prepared for the financial difficulties and challenges that you may soon experience. For example, you will need to find a home to live in (if you are not staying in the family home), you and your spouse will need to decide on child custody, and you will most likely need to find a job to start bringing in some money. While it is absolutely possible to rebuild your life, achieve your goals, and become happy again after the divorce, you will first need to create a realistic plan on how you would like to do this.

And our likely advice would be, don’t wait for what could be. In this situation, there’s no guarantee of money. Marriage is not like a game show. We understand the fear and frustration that are likely driving that woman, and we can sympathize with her. When you give up one life path for another and the path you chose does not go according to plan, it’s easy to become cynical or bitter. But it’s also not healthy – not for you, and not for your child.

Instead, you should think about how the courts will most likely make you look for work, even if you’re granted post-separation support. You may also lose your health insurance once you divorce (though your children should remain on your co-parent’s policy.) Therefore, the sooner that you can begin starting your job search and figuring out how you will make it work as a single parent, the quicker you can develop a plan and become financially secure again. One of the ways we help our clients is by reviewing their financial situation and helping them plan for the future. This may include bringing in a financial planner.

What if the spouse had already inherited, though?

According to North Carolina § 50‑20, marital property is “all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of the separation.” North Carolina follows an equitable distribution system when it comes to dividing marital property. It is important to understand that “equitable” does not necessarily mean that you and your spouse will receive 50/50 of everything. It means that the division must be fair. The court will look at several factors to determine what you will receive, which includes:

  • How much income and property each spouse has
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • What type of child custody arrangements are in place and who will own or live in the family home
  • Whether there are any pensions or retirement accounts
  • Whether there were contributions made by one spouse to help the other spouse’s career or education
  • Whether there were contributions made by one spouse to increase the value of any of the separate property

So IF your spouse has already inherited that money, and IF he or she commingles it with marital funds, then you should be entitled to a share of that money, even if you are a stay-at-home parent. But if the inheritance is kept separate, then no: you may not receive any of it. You could, however, potentially receive a greater share of the other marital assets.

Can a stay-at-home parent receive alimony during or after a divorce?

North Carolina § 50‑16.3A. explains that the court “shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors.” Therefore, as a stay-at-home parent who has been financially dependent on your spouse during the marriage, you have a strong argument for seeking alimony. Here are some of the factors that the court will consider when making this decision:

  • Yours and your spouse’s educational background
  • Yours and your spouse’s earning potential and earning history
  • What type of standard of living you had throughout the marriage
  • What type of expenses and needs you have
  • Whether any marital misconduct took place
  • How much you and your spouse make or could potentially make
  • Both of your ages and physical, mental, and emotional health
  • How long the marriage lasted

If you are facing divorce as a stay-at-home parent, it is important to have legal guidance you can trust. At Epperson Law Group, PLLC, our Charlotte divorce lawyers will guide you through the divorce process while also ensuring that your rights are protected. We know and understand that it is not easy going through a divorce as a non-working parent, which is why we will compassionately help you overcome every issue and challenge that may stand in your way. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a consultation at one of our office locations in Weddington, Concord, Charlotte, or Boone today.