When a marriage ends, financial matters become a major concern for many single parents. The costs of managing a household alone can seem overwhelming, especially if you stay at home with young children and have been out of the workforce of a while.

Fortunately, Washington family courts ensure that both parents are able to survive and thrive after divorce. Take these steps to lay the groundwork for a solid financial future.

Seek spousal support

Commonly called alimony, spousal support provides the means for a partner who was previously financially dependent on his or her spouse to become self-sufficient. The court may award financial payments based on the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage and the amount of time it would take you to complete education or job training to re-enter the workforce.

In Washington, the court may award one spouse permanent support for a marriage lasting longer than 25 years. For shorter unions, the guideline is one year of alimony payments for every three years of marriage (five years for a 15-year marriage, for example).

Gather financial documentation

During divorce proceedings, the court requires a full picture of your family’s financial status. Be prepared with tax returns and W-2 forms, income statements, bank statements, mortgage information and other details for both you and your spouse.

Consider home expenses

If you plan to stay in the marital home, consider how much it will cost to maintain. Does it make more sense to downsize to a smaller home that you can more easily afford? If you agree to give your spouse the house, the court may require a monetary payment in exchange depending on the value of the property. Have an appraisal so you know the worth of this shared asset.

 Create a budget

Develop a list of the projected expenses of running your household after divorce. If you have income, include that amount in your budget as well. The court will use this information in creating your divorce agreement, including spousal support determination.

While divorce can be a scary time, good advocates can help you protect your rights. Take this opportunity to move forward into a bright financial future.