Displaced Homemakers

A woman who, after managing a household for years, is forced by financial necessity to find a wage-paying job. This blog is intended for the women who feel that their lives have been hit by a tornado, their tomorrows may experience a hurricane and their nights are sleepless. This blog is for the women who need to rebuild their lives, no matter the age and no matter the circumstance and for the women who needs to find resources, gather support to feel that they are not alone.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Displaced Homemakers: Divorce, Alimony and Rights

Susan Brannon
10 January 2012

There are important items to know and understand before heading off to divorce court.  It is suggested to make sure that your lawyer understands your states laws and to ask them questions regarding your award possibilities.  Do not let this slip during the trauma that you are going through, for you may regret this later.

Alimony is a type of spousal support and the award depends on several factors:  
  • Duration of the marriage 
  • Your age 
  • Your health
Types of Support
Permanent support can be awarded if a displaced homemaker was never able to achieve a standard of living without the support of her husband.  For example, the housewife did not pursue a career or education in order to take care of a home and family.  There is also reimbursement alimony, which is given to the homemaker to go to school in preparation for a professional career.  Rehabilitative awards can be possible for two to three years to allow the displaced homemaker to acquire job skills to renenter the workforce.

Factors involved:
Each state has different laws for awarding spousal support.  Some considerations are the duration of the marriage.  There is a consideration when ruling for alimony called the "ten-year rule".  This is used when assessing a displaced homemaker's chances of receiving some type of spousal support award.  This does vary from state to state.  Permanent alimony may be awarded after 10 years of marriage and others require 20 years.

Some states have a "standard of living" factor, that requires the court to ensure that a displaced homemaker maintains the same lifestyle to which she/he has become accustomed to during the marriage.

Most states do not consider factors such as adultery or willful abandonment from the marriage.  Most courts do not want to hear all the "reasons" for separation and the judges just want to move through the court secession and get on with things. 

Some states have a public policy and will award spousal support to prevent a displaced homemaker from become a "ward of the state"

My advice: 
  • Make sure that you find a good lawyer who will and can act as your advocate.  
  • If you do not have any money, then try to talk the lawyer into receiving payment once the case is settled and ask him to ask the payment for the lawyer in the settlement.  This way, you will not have a bill by the time you are finished.  
  • It is important that you clearly tell him/her that you feel that you are not able to reenter the workforce and give yourself plenty of time to reeducate and train in order to do so.  Find out what your states laws are and the resources available. 
  • Again, make sure that your lawyer understands that you need lots of time to get on your feet.  Know that you deserve a good start, a decent career and a decent living.    Lawyers are busy and handle cases all of the time.  Unfortunately, you may get the impression that they do not really care and that they are trying to  push you through the door.  Keep your head up and look forward, forget your emotions for the moment and put your feet forward.


  1. This is so important! I was thrown away after 29 years of marriage. I was a homemaker and mom who home schooled 2 boys for 10 years. I was a military spouse for 21 of those years. I began to have physical problems 10 years before the separation that have so far kept me from earning a living for myself. UNFORTUNATELY I agreed to 5 years of "alimony" support. 6 years later, I am still disabled, 54 years old, and living well below the poverty level. I live on 1/2 of his military pension (communal property) and food stamps. I was divorced in GA, now live in IL where I would have definitely been awarded permanent support. I didn't want him to support me- I was SO HURT! BUT, I sure wish I had listened to advice! Ladies, try not to let your emotions cloud your judgment! He should have to pay- especially if he is the one responsible for the divorce!

  2. I do not feel sorry for you. Lots of women never married or had anyone financially supporting them to begin with. How do you think they do it?! Grow up and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Lots of people have it much worse.

    1. You know, it depends on where a person is coming from. This is focused on stay at home mom's, displaced homemakers...so this population spent a majority of their lives tending to family and family values, raising kids, foregoing a career. Yes, there are many women out there who chose not to have a family, and that is fine. They are in a different place. It is sad to see that you have no understanding of the realities in this world, and have to put such comments to those who are really struggling. Have you noticed that even though the amount of available jobs increased, the hours and rates decreased in America? Have you noticed how many people want to work, are able to work and cannot find a livable wage job? Have you noticed how corporate America depends on the government to take the benefit load from them, with low hours, low pay, increased profit? These actions are having their effects on many even middle class Americans these days...I think that it is time that you grew up.

  3. So sorry, (I finally did see this, did not receive notification). This seems to be a big problem these days along with increasing ageism in the hiring world. We cannot prove it though, its a hard on. I am glad that you have permanent support. It is important for us to have that security. This is real life and not sexist, but as women, we need that stability.