After eight (8) years as a Rhode Island lawyer dedicated to divorce and family law and another thirteen years in law here in Rhode Island, there is one situation that I have seen consistently and it almost always results in an unhappy husband paying alimony to his spouse. The scenario goes pretty much like this one.
John and Melissa get married and have a child. Melissa stays home to take care of the child because daycare expenses would be too costly and Melissa doesn't want her child raised by someone else. Melissa promises that when the child gets into school full time that she will get a job or return to work to help with the family income. The day comes when the child is in full time school and Melissa refuses to go back to work. She wants to be able to bring the child to school, participate in school events during the day and pick the child up after school. This situation often ends with a very upset husband and may eventually lead to the husband filing for divorce.
John files for divorce and Melissa who has not been working for years seeks alimony and child support as the primary caregiver for the child. John is upset. John can't understand it. He pulled the financial weight for his family for years and now when he wants to get out of the relationship he might be expected to pay for several more years.
Just because Melissa stayed home with their child and refused to return to work as she had agreed to help out their little family?
The answer is a resounding "NO".
It is not because Melissa broke her promise.
Practically speaking it is because John allowed her to stay home without contributing to the household income.
Many families are economical. Attorneys understand that. Yes, I understand that. However, everyone should take into consideration that more than one out of every two marriages end in divorce.
When you have that kind of figure working against you then you have to consider the consequences if your marriage happens to be one of those that don't make it.
So what is the answer? Families need two incomes even if it means the majority of one income goes to daycare for a while. Women can earn as much as men these days and the old ways of the mother just staying home with the child are disappearing. Frankly, they should be.
The answer to John's predicament and for many other men is to get the mother out and working for your financial future as soon as possible after the child is born. It is not a right of a mother to stay home with the child any more than it is a right of the father not to pull his weight with diaper changing and late night feedings.
In the end, if John, or you, or your neighbor Tim, is one of those two marriages that isn't going to make it for 50 years or so and you end up in Rhode Island Divorce Court, then if you let the mother stay at home with the child then prepare to pay alimony for a few years. At that juncture you have no one to blame. You should be informed. We balance the pros and cons on house buying. We also do it on whether we take a job or not. Why shouldn't we expect to do it with a marriage? After all, isn't it one of the biggest decisions in our lives?!
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