The standard of living for women drops an average of 30 percent when they get divorced, according to the book "Divorced From Justice" by Karen Winner. Women may earn less money than their husbands, and they may be more likely to get custody of any children. In the past, women often got alimony, but that's not always the case today. Therefore, divorced women may need some financial assistance, at least temporarily, until they get back on their feet.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is a federally-sponsored program that works through state, territorial and tribal agencies to offer monthly support payments to families, including divorced women with dependent children. Women may be required to participate in a work activity such as a job or a job training program in some states to receive TANF benefits. In many states, women can only receive TANF for a limited period of time. Divorced women can apply at the welfare or social services office in the county in which they live.
Food stamps programs, called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in most areas, help many divorced women with low incomes buy groceries. Like TANF, the program is federally funded but is administered through state and local agencies. The amount of food stamps a woman can receive depends on her household size and her income. You can use food stamps at many different grocery stores for many different food items. Women can apply at the same place they apply for TANF.
Medicaid provides health insurance for many divorced women with low incomes and their children. In many states, only families with dependent children, elderly people and disabled people can qualify for Medicaid, so not all divorced women qualify, even if they have very low incomes. You can apply at the same place you apply for TANF and food stamps.
Child Care Vouchers
Some divorced mothers with low incomes can receive child care vouchers, which help them pay for licensed child care services while they go to work. Women may have to pay part of the cost of child care, but vouchers pay the majority of the cost. Divorced mothers can apply at the same place they apply for TANF and food stamps.
Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
Divorced women with low incomes may qualify for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. They can use the vouchers to help pay their rent at any residence at which the landlord agrees to accept the vouchers, giving them a wide range of choices of where to live and raise their families. Women may have to pay part of the cost of rent, but the vouchers pay the majority of the cost. You can apply at your local public housing agency (see Resources).
- USDA: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
- CMS: Medicaid Overview
- U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development: Housing Choice Vouchers Fact Sheet
- “Divorced From Justice”; Karen Winner; 2000
- Kelly Morris, Social Worker, Mansfield, OH
- U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development: PHA Contact Information