A recent study published in the American Journal of Sociology asserts that unemployment is the number one predictor of divorce for men. Above even dissatisfaction with the relationship, the lack of a job appears to be the biggest factor pushing men to end a marriage. Unfortunately, a husband's unemployment also increased the chances that his wife would leave him.
The exact reason for a husband's unemployment being a predictor divorce is not clear, however, several possible reasons exist. One theory put forward by experts is that running afoul of traditional gender roles where the man is the provider may significantly impact a man's self-esteem leading to depression or tension within the marriage. A stay-at-home dad may be affected enough by social stigma that he leaves the marriage to maintain a sense of male pride.
Concerns for Stay-at-Home Dads
There is a natural disparity between the financial resources of a working wife and a stay-at-home dad, putting such a divorcing husband at a significant disadvantage. Even after a divorce, if a husband is entitled to spousal support from the wife, most states limit the duration of alimony payments.
There is always the risk that a judge will decide the husband is able-bodied, skilled and has no need for financial support. Unfortunately, the longer a man has been at home with the kids, the bigger the gaps on his resume and harder it will likely be to secure employment.
Fathers also often face an uphill battle when it comes to custody. Even if the father has been the primary caregiver, it may be hard to overcome the long-held presumption that children are best left in the care of the mother. While this mentality is changing, progress is slow and some stay-at-home dads may face difficulty obtaining primary custody based on out-dated practices and beliefs. It is important for fathers' rights to be protected and advocated for to ensure this does not occur.
Stay-at-home dads are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to divorcing; not only because of gender biases but also because of unequal financial resources. Because divorce affects both family and finances it is important to have the best representation possible. If you or a loved one is divorcing, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss your situation and your options.