For many families in Washington, the choice to have a parent stay at home with the kids may have seemed obvious. In many cases, the person who leaves work to raise the children at home is often the mother. This scenario reflects a number of beliefs, including the widespread American view that mothers are the best choice to care for young children. Around a quarter of American mothers and 7% of fathers are stay-at-home parents, choosing to remain outside the traditional workforce in favor of caring for their children.
There are various reasons why people make this decision, but economic factors come into play on several levels. For some parents, the cost of day care may be so much that it would overwhelm the salary of the stay-at-home parent. This is especially true for families with multiple children or special needs. In other cases, a stay-at-home parent helps boost the fortunes of the working spouse, thus improving the financial situation of the entire family. Due to the work of the stay-at-home parent, the working spouse can take business trips, devote long hours to the job or even launch a new enterprise without worrying that parenting tasks are being neglected.
While this type of partnership is common, it can become more complex when divorce enters the picture. Individuals who stay at home with the kids may have a far more difficult time reentering the workplace, and they may lose out on salaries and titles that they would have had if they remained employed. In addition, some may argue that they deserve a smaller percentage of the marital property.
Like most states, Washington is an equitable distribution state that divides marital assets based on achieving a fair outcome rather than an equal one. A stay-at-home spouse going through a divorce can work with a family law attorney to negotiate a fair agreement on property division, spousal support and other matters.