A Message To Unmarried Stay-at-Home Moms

Dear Stay-At-Home Mom,

I know that you are in a relationship with a wonderful man. You’re in love. He’s promised to take care of you. You are going to make babies together. You’ve both agreed that he will work and support the family and you will stay home and raise the babies. Daycare is really expensive anyway, right? So let’s save money on daycare. It’s better for the kids to be with their mother all day anyway, isn’t it? Why miss out on all those wonderful moments and “firsts” when the kids are little. Yes, we’ve all heard you won’t get those years back. Yes, this is better. He can go to work. He does well. You’ll have enough on his income. And you will make a home for the family and the children. Maybe when the kids get older, you’ll go back to work.

It sounds absolutely wonderful, but that’s only when things work out. What about when they don’t work out? What happens if you break up? Are you thinking, “Well he’s a good guy. He’ll do the right thing.” Well, what does that mean? Do the right thing? Did he promise you that? And what, exactly, did he promise you?

If you were married, you could be entitled to alimony. At the very least, you would be entitled to temporary support to continue to pay the bills and support yourself and your children. You would be entitled to continue to stay in the home you’ve lived in. You would be entitled to continue to use the same vehicle, even if it’s not in your name. You would be entitled to keep your cell phone and keep it turned on. You would be entitled to keep using the same bank accounts and the same credit cards. You would have enough money for food and gas. You would be entitled to a share of any property acquired during the relationship regardless of whose name it’s in. You would have rights. Legal rights that can be enforced if someone reneges on his promises. That is only because you are legally married.

Without a marriage certificate, you are deserving of all these things, but you are entitled to nothing.

All you have is hope and expectations that may not ever be fulfilled. And no way to enforce them. You are entitled to a custody and parenting time plan, and you’re entitled to child support. That’s it. If you have property in your name, that’s yours. If you have property in joint names with your partner, you will be entitled to share in that. But what if the property isn’t in your name? What if you don’t have a job? What if you don’t have income? What if you aren’t on the Deed to the house or the lease to the apartment? Or what if you are the only one on the lease and he’s moved out. How will you pay the rent?

I am not advocating marriage. I am advocating marriage if you want to trade financial independence for homemaking. This is all fine if you make sure you that you can be financially independent. That means you have a job, or other source of income, and it’s adequate for you to support yourself and your children if your partner were to leave the picture.

But if you don’t have that, what do you have?

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About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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