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Getting a Job After Divorce: Understanding Your New Finances

Getting a Job After Divorce
Updated: October 27, 2023
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When you've dedicated years to being a stay-at-home parent, going through a divorce can bring significant changes to your financial situation. 

Whether you're looking to revive a previous career or need to find a job for the first time, reentering the professional world is a major step. While being a stay-at-home parent is a valid and valuable job, many stay-at-home parents (particularly stay-at-home moms) find it challenging to gain financial independence.

Related: 10 Ways to Make Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom 

It may feel overwhelming, but the key is to focus on navigating this new chapter of your life, from exploring career opportunities to understanding alimony and child support.

Stay-at-Home Moms and the Financial Opportunity Gap

Carmen Carrozza, a former bank manager in Chappaqua, New York, has seen many people in the midst of divorce come through the door. The most uncertain are often women whose spouses have been the sole providers while they have been caring for the children. 

Even though these people worked for a few years before having children, they have been out of the workforce for too long to reenter at the same level, or the work they used to do has changed dramatically.

A 2023 survey from job board website Indeed found that nearly three-quarters of stay-at-home moms faced significant biases when re-entering the workforce because of the SAHM label. 

Despite the determination, organization and dedication caring for kids full-time requires these stay-at-home moms reported that most prospective employers saw their period out of the traditional workforce as a resume gap and undervalued the skills associated with a homemaker/childcare role.

Thankfully, it is still possible to frame the stay-at-home experience as offering unique transferable skills that can be used in the office. So if you’re facing resistance about how to update your resume and land interviews, follow these steps.

How to Apply to Jobs After Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

Don't settle for just any job, but be realistic. Instead of waiting for the perfect position, it's better to gain experience and work your way towards your dream job. Embrace new opportunities that come your way. 

Depending on your financial situation, support system, and children's ages, consider freelancing, part-time work, full-time work or volunteer work as ways to add relevant experience to your resume while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Make a List of Past Jobs and Accomplishments

Your life after divorce will look a lot different, so it’s important to reflect on the roles you held before marriage and kids – even if that’s only your waitress or cashier gigs in high school or your academic successes in college.

Frame Your SAHM Experience as Practical Skills 

Young mother brings her baby to job interview. Looking for job after divorce.
Image source: iStock

Your self-esteem may not be at its highest post-divorce, but figuring out your goals and sharing what you have to offer can help boost your confidence in the job search. ​​Don't feel overwhelmed about explaining a career gap. 

Many mothers now include their time as a stay-at-home parent in their work history, recognizing it as a job in its own right. LinkedIn even allows you to list it as a position. Instead of hiding this experience, embrace it and take pride in the time you spent raising your children.

If you don’t already have one, make a LinkedIn profile if you do not already have one to highlight your skillset and network with people in your desired field. These connections can lead to potential referrals and recommendations.

Network, Network, Network

Reach out to your personal network as well – family members and close friends – who may be looking for childcare assistance or administrative support. The pandemic also highlighted the need for flexible work, so remote and hybrid options can make the transition less daunting and easier to make part of your schedule.

 You already have the skills needed to run a home and manage many people’s schedules and these skills are invaluable in any role. 

Go Back to School 

Having to job search after divorce can also be an opportunity for many parents to boost their education whether that’s getting/finishing a degree or getting certified in a new trade. 

Remember, with adult education courses at your local high school or community college, you should be able to increase your skills and credentials and can open the doors to further learning in areas like medicine or engineering. 

How to Develop a Credit History Post-Divorce 

For those exiting long-term marriages, finding a means of earning enough money to stand on your own can be the most important first step. Very few people are married to partners so well-off they can expect to receive support payments forever. 

Does Divorce Impact Your Credit Score? 

According to Carmen Carrozza, one of the most common concerns for those in the midst of divorce involves building personal credit. The task is far easier, of course, for people who can show they have assets or income, by way of steady support or employment.

Good credit is vital. These days, it seems, we can hardly exist in America unless we pull out a credit card to pay the tab. If you have been relying on your spouse's income, on the other hand, you will have to establish your own credit history.

If you have been working all along, your credit rating will not be affected by your divorce, unless you and your spouse had joint accounts and failed to pay those bills on time, or if you stopped paying them after the divorce was filed. 

Establishing Personal Credit Without a Spouse 

First, you must be able to identify your assets, like cash accounts, and your sources of income, including salary, interest, and, of course, maintenance (alimony). Because banks are seeking good credit risks, they will be looking not just at your income, but also at debts, credit history, collateral and stability (how long you've been living in the same place). 

There's a formula to this. 

If your income-to-debt ratio is 30 to 40 percent (you use no more than 30 or 40 percent of your income to your pay mortgage, car loans and the like), banks will generally consider issuing you a credit card.

If you don't have a viable personal credit history, you can start to build one by shopping at stores that give instant credit; department stores, gas stations and local stores for the necessities you already need for you and your kids

Begin by making small purchases on credit, and pay off your balance on time each month. Then, get a Visa or MasterCard. Pay debts on these cards right away, too. If you've done things right, you should have your own positive credit history in about a year.

Spousal Support After Divorce 

Divorced parents meet in neutral place for kids to switch houses. Spousal support after divorce.
Image source: iStock

As soon as you're faced with the prospect of becoming financially independent, call an accountant or divorce case financial expert. An accountant, especially one familiar with your family's financial situation, is in a good position to help you develop a plan to get back on your feet.

 A family law firm can help you find out your rights to make the process go more smoothly. If you don't want to go to a professional, you can work to get a handle on financial issues by listing your income, assets, and expenses.

Spousal Support and Child Support Guidelines

Part of the divorce process is figuring out custody, and that also brings decisions about spousal support and child support. For stay-at-home moms and dads, these financial supports are key to helping you get back on your feet as you get back into a career. But separations are not always smooth and amicable, so it may be more of a battle to get what you need.

Alimony and child support payments vary by state, but marital fault typically is not part of calculating these payments in most areas. The amount of time married and the number of children a couple had will impact how much money will be received and for how long.

Co-parenting does not eliminate the option for child support, but factors such as income and custody levels for each parent impact the amount of support paid. So initially as you work to reenter the professional world, the amount should be enough to help with food, shelter and clothing for your children.

 If one parent has full custody, this amount will be higher for the non-custodial parent in order to cover the standard of living that the children were accustomed to prior to the divorce. 

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging chapter in life, but it's also an opportunity for personal growth and empowerment. By taking control of your finances, exploring new career paths, and embracing your strengths, you can create a brighter future for yourself after divorce.

Sources +

Indeed Career Advice. (2023). Stay-at-Home Mom: Valuable Transferable Skills. Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/news/stay-at-home-mom-valuable-transferable-skills

Masters Law Group LLC. (2023). Co-parenting and the impact on child support. Retrieved from https://www.masters-lawgroup.com/news/co-parenting-and-the-impact-on-child-support/

WomensLaw.org. (2023). Can I get alimony? For how many years would I get the payments? Retrieved from https://www.womenslaw.org/laws/de/divorce/information-alimony/can-i-get-alimony-how-many-years-would-i-get-payments

 

Stephanie Sokol

About Stephanie

Stephanie is a mom living in the Chicago area with over 10 years’ experience in… Read more

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