Divorce is scary for almost everyone, but if your spouse is the breadwinner and you have little or no income, it can seem especially frightening. In many one-income families, one parent stays home to care for the children while the other works. For others, one spouse may be in school, have a disability, or otherwise not be in a position to be employed. If this is you, you might well be wondering “if I divorce my spouse, how am I going to support myself financially?” Before you panic, read on to learn more about how people in your situation make this work. Spousal Support Spousal support (sometimes called alimony) is something you have probably heard about before now. It means that if one party makes significantly more than the other, the court may require the party who makes more to help support the other party financially after divorce. How much support you will get and for how long depends on a number of factors. How much you make, how much your spouse makes, how much you might make if you re-entered the job market, your age, and how long you have been married are just a few of the factors that the court takes into account when awarding spousal support. The good news for spouses who have not been working is that if you and your spouse agreed that you would not work for a while (for example, to stay home with the children), the court does not expect you to be able to jump right back in the job market easily. If you have young children or are of retirement age, you may not be expected to seek employment at all for the foreseeable future. The only bad news about spousal support is that it is awarded at the end of the case. So what do you do in the meantime? What is Pendente Lite Support? “Pendente Lite” is a Latin term that means “during the litigation.” This means that during the time between when your divorce is filed and when the judge makes a final decision, the court can put some things in place to keep everyone at the status quo. One example is a decision as to where the children will live while the divorce is pending. Another is whether one spouse must pay the other spousal support. As soon as your divorce is filed, your attorney will probably file for pendente lite support so you will be able to stay afloat financially. Bridging the Gap Even with pendente lite support, there is still a gap for the unemployed or underemployed spouse who is thinking of leaving the marriage. How do you support yourself up until you can file for divorce and pendente lite support? This part of the equation is more of a personal decision than a legal one. Some people rely on savings, borrow money from family or friends, or rely on credit. Others may have an amicable enough separation that they might be able to work out an informal support arrangement with their spouse. Some economize by moving in with a family member or friend and borrowing the rest. The plan that is right for you depends largely on your individual situation. This gap is even larger for those who are filing on “no-fault” grounds based on one year (or six months, if there are no children) of separation, because in that case you file for divorce at the end of the separation period. In these cases we can file a different kind of case to get support, but it will still take a little time. You can learn more about how we help clients with an exit plan in this post. And remember, if you are in fear for your safety or the safety of your children, contact your local domestic violence resource center to get help making the quickest and safest plan for your situation. Money doesn’t have to be a reason to stay stuck in a bad marriage. If you are going through a divorce in Virginia, we can help you make a plan to change your life. Contact us.