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Knoxville Divorce Lawyer > Blog > Divorce > Is Stay-at-Home Parenting Worth More Than a Model A Ford?

Is Stay-at-Home Parenting Worth More Than a Model A Ford?


Is a car as old as your grandparents a valuable antique, or is it just an old piece of junk?  The value of an item of property is sometimes up for debate; if anyone doubts this, consider that the television show The Price Is Right has been producing new episodes for decades.  Disputes over the value of marital property are common in divorce cases, but they are not the only way in which spouses come up with conflicting accounts of how much money they ought to receive.  When one spouse is able to work but chooses to stay out of the workforce, the court sometimes imputes income to the and bases alimony awards or obligations on this spouse’s hypothetical income.  Not every non-working spouse gets imputed income, though.  When the couple agreed for one spouse to be a stay-at-home parent, the court considers the earning potential for that spouse that the couple willingly sacrificed and often awards alimony, at least temporarily, to the non-working spouse.  It all depends on the details of the marriage and divorce.  If you are a stay-at-home parent going through a divorce, contact a Tennessee divorce lawyer.

Details of the Phelps Case

Amy and Emerson Phelps married in New York State in 1990, when they were 18 and 21 years old, respectively.  Early in their marriage, Amy studied to become a registered nurse and got a job in a hospital after graduating, while Emerson worked in asbestos removal.  In 1993, Emerson quit his jobs because he was worried about the health risks, and the couple moved to Tennessee, where Amy worked as a nurse and Emerson worked for the sheriff’s department.  After they saved enough money, they moved back to New York and bought a cabin, which turned out to have a 1929 Ford Model A in the garage.

The parties’ daughter was born in 2001, and Emerson stayed home to care for her after Amy returned to work after her maternity leave.  During this time, Emerson began to show the first signs of mental illness, worrying constantly about the child’s exposure to germs; he would forbid other children to interact with her and wake her up in the middle of the night just to give her a second bath. His mental illness worsened after they returned to Tennessee in 2005; some days he could not even get out of bed.  By this time, the child was in school; Amy worked as a school nurse on the weekdays and took care of the child on evenings and weekends.  Emerson was employed sporadically for the rest of the marriage, but he was working as a police officer in 2008.  When Amy said she wanted a divorce, he threatened to commit suicide with his work-issued handgun; a SWAT team came to the house to de-escalate the situation.

During the divorce process, the parties disagreed about the value of their marital property, including their Tennessee home, their New York cabin, and the unrestored Model A.  The court granted Emerson supervised visits with the child; to determine child support, it imputed his income as equivalent to a full-time minimum wage job.

Contact an Attorney Today for Help

A Tennessee family law attorney can help you resolve disagreements about equitable distribution and the value of your marital assets.  Contact Knoxville divorce lawyer Patrick L. Looper for a consultation.




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