Your Rights in Divorce and Custody: Stay-at-Home Dads
Are you a stay-at-home dad who is the primary caregiver? If so, you are not alone. Last year, nearly 2 million dads chose to stay home and raise the kids, and almost 32,000 of them are right here in Maryland. That’s about 16 percent of all the parents who stay home with children.
Why so Many Dads Stay Home with the Kids
There are plenty of reasons stay-at-home dads make the decision to forgo a career. Some simply view parenting as a key to who they are. Many are simply struggling to find the right job. Furthermore, many women are making headway in the job market, and are able to earn as much or more than their husbands could. Other fathers are facing astronomical childcare costs. Whatever the reasons, society’s changing view of gender roles has allowed men to stay home with the kids in more and more households. But when divorce looms, do these dads have the same rights to custody and support that their female counterparts enjoy? A competent local attorney can answer this and other questions.
Custody and Visitation in Maryland
Maryland law requires that physical custody and visitation decisions be based on the best interests of the child. Significant weight will be placed on who the primary caregiver has been. If Dad stayed at home to take care of getting the kids to school and soccer games, and if he was there to provide loving care for those bouts of the flu, it will count for a lot with any judge. Other issues, among many, to be considered include:
- Parental fitness, reputation and character;
- Character and reputation of the parties;
- Desire of the parents and any agreements;
- Potential for maintaining natural family relations;
- Child’s preference;
- Maternal opportunities affecting the child’s future;
- Age and gender of children;
- Parents home and the minor child’s opportunity for visitation;
- Length of the parent’s separation;
- Prior voluntary surrender of custody of the child;
- Religious views.
Child support is calculated based on the percentage of time the child sleeps in your home. If you are awarded sole physical custody, you will likely be entitled to support payments based on the combined income of you and your former spouse. Even if joint physical custody is awarded, the higher earning partner will make some payment to the lesser earning one.
Alimony may be awarded, pendente lite, to cover the time period between the date you filed for divorce and the date the divorce if finalized. More commonly, rehabilitative alimony may be issued for a time period in order to give you the opportunity to go to school or build your career. This generally lasts between 3-10 years. Indefinite alimony is sometimes awarded when you cannot be expected to make financial gains due to age, disability, or illness. Many factors determine eligibility for alimony in Maryland: none of those factors is gender.
Getting the Best Outcomes
If you’re a stay-at-home dad facing divorce, don’t give up hope of getting custody or financial support just because you are a man. The fact of the matter is, your gender is not allowed to play a role in any legal decisions made. With the Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, LLC, in your corner, you have a team willing to fight for the best possible outcomes on your behalf. Contact us in Baltimore for a free, confidential consultation.