The Hive Law

I Want A Divorce But My Wife Can’t Support Herself

I Want A Divorce But My Wife Can’t Support Herself - Does A Husband Have To Support His Wife During Separation

You’re thinking, “I want a divorce but my wife can’t support herself.”

What happens when your wife can’t support herself after a divorce?

We’re covering things like:

  • do you have to support your wife during the separation
  • what the financials will look like (alimony, child support, health insurance, etc.)
  • what the divorce process looks like when your wife can’t support herself

Let’s dig in.

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I Want A Divorce But My Wife Can’t Support Herself

You want a divorce, but your wife can’t support herself.

There are three different scenarios for divorcing a wife who can’t support herself.

They are going to be:

  • short term marriages (less than 5 years)
  • medium-term marriages (5 – 20 years)
  • long term marriages (20+ years)

Short Term Marriages

The courts will try to return each person to their financial state before the marriage.

(If it’s a super short marriage, you could just get an annulment.)

This is usually true even if one spouse is a high-income earning spouse.

And even if one spouse is a stay-at-home mom.

Let’s say both spouses are able to work and are in good health.

The courts may not award financial support in the divorce settlement to the wife.

Even if you want a divorce and the wife can’t support herself initially.

They will expect her to get a job to support herself.

They can force her to get a part-time or full-time job to help support herself.

Medium Term Marriages

These marriages have the most uncertain outcomes in terms of alimony and spousal support.

This is not great to hear since the average length of a marriage is 8 years per divorce statistics.

The court’s main goal is to give your ex-wife time to get her footing if she can’t support herself.

This means that they will award her spousal support for a period of time.

A good rule of thumb is that you’ll pay one year of alimony for every three years of marriage.

Some things that the courts look at during the divorce process when a marriage ends are:

  • can your wife support herself today or in the future
  • can you support yourself AND your wife
  • what was the standard of living during the marriage
  • what are your wife’s age and health
  • what are your wife’s NEEDS vs WANTS

The judge takes all of this into consideration when determining financial support.

You may not think your wife can support herself.

But the courts may force her to get a part-time or full-time job to support herself.

You just may have to give her some spousal support for a couple of years.

Long Term Marriages

The courts want an ex-husband and ex-wife to have equal footing when their marriage ends.

They are going to look at your financial situation with things like:

  • social security income
  • health insurance (i.e., if your wife was getting medical care on your insurance)
  • joint accounts for investments (i.e., brokerage accounts)
  • individual accounts for investments (i.e., 401k, Roth IRA, etc.)
  • rental properties or primary homes that are community property
  • debts for credit cards, personal debts, vehicles, etc.

Basically, they want you and your ex-wife to both have equal financial security in retirement.

Related: How Long Can A Spouse Drag Out A Divorce

Does A Husband Have To Support His Wife During Separation?

Yes, a husband has to support his wife during separation if he’s the higher-earning spouse.

Let’s say that the husband has to pay spousal support to his wife who can’t support herself.

In this case, the husband has to support her during the separation.

If the wife was paying spousal support, then she would have to support the husband.

The Financial Situation When My Wife Doesn’t Work And I Want A Divorce

When your wife doesn’t work, but you want a divorce, then finances will be tougher.

Let’s talk about what happens when you want a divorce but your wife can’t support herself.

(Usually, the judges will financially favor a stay-at-home mom since she can’t support herself.)

Child Support

Child support is generally not affected by a wife who can’t support herself.

The amount you’d have to pay would be roughly the same as if she could support herself.

With divorce with children, child support is meant to maintain the child’s standard of living for:

  • shelter (i.e., helping pay for rent or mortgages and utilities)
  • food, clothing, toys, books, etc.
  • medical expenses and health insurance
  • school-related expenses
  • extracurricular activities

What if a wife who can’t support herself uses child support for herself?

In this case, you need to:

  • collect evidence that she’s illegally using the child support
  • request a court order for your wife to provide accounting receipts of the child support use

Spousal Support

A judge will award alimony to your wife when she can’t support herself.

“Can’t support herself” can be temporary or long-term.

Let’s say your wife can’t support herself temporarily.

And she needs financial support to get back on her feet.

In this case, the courts will award alimony while your wife:

  • goes back to college
  • obtains the necessary skills to reenter the job market

But what if you want a divorce and your wife can’t support herself long-term?

An example of this is when your wife was a stay-at-home mom and has no skills or education.

And her job prospects are very limited.

A judge may award long-term alimony to your wife so she can support herself.

This is reserved for:

  • long-term marriages
  • spouses who cannot become self-supporting
  • spouses that struggle with mental health issues and can’t support themselves

Related: How Long Do You Have To Pay Alimony

Health Insurance

You want a divorce, but your wife can’t support herself.

How does health insurance play into this?

Will you have to maintain health insurance for her?

Your wife will no longer be eligible for your health insurance once the divorce settlement is final.

But, during the divorce proceedings, she will still be on it.

For employer health plans, only dependents can be on your health insurance plan.

An ex-wife is no longer a dependent.

What To Do When Preparing To Divorce A Wife Who Can’t Support Herself

When you want a divorce but your wife can’t support herself, you have two main options.

We recommend getting an uncontested divorce.

But, many times, divorcing a wife who can’t support herself turns into a contested divorce.

Related: How Long Does A Divorce Take

Uncontested Divorce

You can have an uncontested divorce even if you don’t think your wife can support herself.

An uncontested divorce just means that you both agree on divorce-related issues.

In your case, it means your wife is okay with the amount of financial support you’re giving her.

When you have an uncontested divorce, you can either:

  • hire a divorce law firm to handle the divorce for you
  • fill out the divorce papers on your own and have a divorce lawyer review them

Either way, our family law firm can help with your divorce.

Just fill out the form on this page to get a free consultation.

Our divorce packets have instructions on how to fill them out.

So that you and your wife can sit down together and hash things out more easily.

Or we can handle your uncontested divorce for you.

That way, it’s the smoothest and fairest outcome for both parties.

Contested Divorce

Most of the time, when a wife can’t support herself, she will contest the divorce.

(Most of the time, but not always.)

A contested divorce is when two spouses cannot agree on the divorce settlement terms.

Normally, the wife will contest the amount of financial support you’re trying to give her.

This is normal as she’s more than likely very nervous about life after the marriage ends.

To protect yourself financially, you need to hire a divorce lawyer.

(Note that contested divorces can rack up legal fees and cost you a lot of money.)

Just fill out the form on this page to get a free consultation with our law firm.

If your wife will work with you, you can fill out divorce papers on your own.

Do It Yourself Divorce (Divorce Papers)

Divorce papers only work when you and your wife can agree on the divorce settlement.

This means that you have an amicable divorce (this is a great thing).

Just fill out the form on this page to get divorce papers tailored to your situation.

We even offer to review divorce papers for couples so that nothing is messed up before filing.

This gives you just enough legal advice to complete your divorce on your own.

This means you agree on things like:

Usually, if you’re getting a divorce and your wife can’t support herself, you can’t go this route.

Wives who can’t support themselves tend to contest divorce.

Let’s talk about the divorce process when you want to divorce a wife who can’t support herself.

Related: How Long Does It Take To File Divorce Papers

The Divorce Process When Your Wife Can’t Support Herself

So, you want to divorce your wife but she can’t support herself.

What does the divorce process look like?

It’s actually the same as any divorce process.

Related: Do You Have To Sign Divorce Papers

File The Divorce Papers

The first step is filling out the divorce papers.

(We can provide you with these, along with instructions on how to fill them out.)

You’ll need to know information like:

  • personal information
  • proof of residency requirements
  • a list of assets (i.e., bank accounts, retirement accounts, social security income, etc.)
  • a list of debts (i.e., credit cards, marital home, personal loans, etc.)
  • the grounds for divorce (i.e., no-fault, abusive marriage, a cheating spouse, etc.)
  • financial support (i.e., alimony, child support, etc.)
  • a co-parenting plan
  • other statutory information different states require

Then you need to file the divorce papers at your local County Clerk’s office.

Related: Questions to Ask A Divorce Lawyer

Request Temporary Court Orders

Married couples seeking a divorce should request temporary court orders.

During the divorce case’s proceedings, this determines:

  • child custody (legal and physical)
  • alimony
  • child support

Temporary court orders are only in place between the breakup and the final divorce order.

These temporary court orders will get replaced with the final divorce settlement.

File Proof Of Service

You have to serve your wife with divorce papers.

This does not mean you just walk in and hand them to her.

You have to file proof of service with the divorce courts.

We recommend:

  • hiring someone to serve the papers
  • mailing the papers to her via certified mail
  • having the Sheriff’s office serve the papers

If you don’t do this step properly, your ex-spouse can claim they never received it.

And this can prolong the divorce proceedings and cost you a lot of money.

Negotiate A Settlement

You’ll need to have your divorce lawyers negotiate the divorce settlement.

This includes how to handle things like:

  • child support
  • child custody
  • spousal support
  • how to split assets and debts

Go To Trial (If Necessary)

If you and your wife cannot come to an agreement, you need to go to trial.

This will cost you a lot of money in legal fees for divorce lawyers to go to trial.

Finalize The Judgement

The final step is the judge signing the Judgement of Divorce.

This is a court order that legally ends the marriage.

And it specifies the details regarding:

  • custodial responsibility
  • parenting time
  • child support
  • spousal support
  • the division of assets and debts. 

I Want A Divorce But My Wife Can’t Support Herself

If you want a divorce and your wife can’t support herself, fill out the form below.

Make sure that you don’t get raked over the coals financially with a good divorce lawyer.

We can either:

  • supply you with the necessary divorce papers
  • have a divorce attorney help guide you through the divorce settlement

Talk soon.

Get A FREE Consultation!
We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)
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