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Stay-at-home parents should consider postnuptial agreements

For many Massachusetts residents, the appeal of becoming a stay-at-home parent is obvious. Stay-at-home parents are often afforded the opportunity to become more intimately involved in the lives of their children. Not having to divide their time between their careers and their children, stay-at-home parents can raise their children full-time, devoting all of their energies to parenting.

However, becoming a full-time parent is not without its risk, especially in the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. One article cites a particularly alarming example of what can happen when a person decides to become a stay-at-home parent and then gets a divorce.

In the article, a fictional couple named Amy and John are described. When the couple embarked on their marriage, both Amy and John had begun lucrative careers. Once they decided to start a family, however, it became important to them that one parent becomes a full-time parent. Amy volunteered to take the role, gladly forfeiting her career in order to focus on the children.

Later on, the couple divorce. At this point, any number of things can happen to the stay at home parent. Such parents are not guaranteed alimony, contrary to what many may believe - the legal system does not necessarily recognize caring for children as a full-time job. They could be left with a settlement that does not fully cover the cost of living. Such a scenario leaves stay at home parents in a challenging position, as an absence from the workforce can make it extremely difficult to find a job.

For those who have yet to marry but know they are going to pursue full-time parenting, a prenuptial agreement can prevent such a scenario from occurring. Certain terms can be set that guarantee the stay-at-home parent will receive a set amount in alimony payments should the couple divorce. If the couple is already married, however, a postnuptial agreement can serve the same function, making the decision to become a full-time parent far less financially risky.

Source: Forbes, "Deciding To Become A Stay-At-Home Mom? Consider This Cautionary Tale," Jeff Landers, May 29, 2014

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