Your marriage has crumbled and all you do is fight. Moving out during divorce sounds like the most natural idea in the world. It minimizes stress, conflict, and aggravation for you, your spouse, and your kids. By the time you get to the point of ending your marriage, most couples already live apart anyway.
Finding a new place to live is the most obvious choice in the world, right? Wrong.
While moving out during divorce seems like a no-brainer, it can have multiple unanticipated consequences on your case. Here’s what you need to know before packing up all your stuff.
How Moving Out During a Divorce Negatively Affects You
Turns out, moving out of a shared home often has a negative impact, and can be considered one of the biggest mistakes in a divorce in several ways.
It’s not a decision to make hastily. You may feel like you need to leave, that you need to get out. But if you do, it’s important to know the impact this decision has. There are major consequences you need to be aware of.
Moving Out Can Affect Child Custody
One of the biggest impacts moving out of a shared home has is on your relationship with your kids.
Living somewhere else means you don’t see them as much. Not only does that affect your parental bond, but it can also actually damage your custody claims down the road.
Things are often tense and home. Kids pick up on this. No one wants to fight in front of their children. You may think moving out will help alleviate that issue. In the short run, you may be right.
But in the long run, your visitation in the future may take a hit. If you don’t spend much time with them now, that may continue later on.
Courts prefer to minimize drastic changes for kids after divorce, this includes drastically altering parenting time.
Ways To Protect Custody
If you do move out during divorce, have a parenting plan already in place. This ensures you still get your time with the kids.
Protect your parenting time by taking advantage of what you have. See them when you have the chance and make them the priority. Maintain an active presence in their lives and their upbringing.
This demonstrates the desire to be a parent, which courts take into account.
The more involved you stay in their day-to-day activities, the more likely that is to continue after divorce. But if you only see them once a week, the court may look at that and think that’s an acceptable schedule. It only benefits you, your case, and your kids, to be as present as possible.
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Moving Out and Finances
In addition to child custody issues, moving out also messes with your finances in multiple ways.
A home is usually the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetimes. As such, when it comes to the division of property, it’s often the most significant asset on the table.
Moving out of a property with your name on it may damage your claim to it later on.
In the meantime, you may also be obligated to continue paying bills during divorce, even when you no longer live there. This can even lead to larger spousal support payments. If you pay that much now, it stands to reason, in the court’s eyes, that you can keep shelling out that amount.
Moving out also sets other financially unsustainable precedents.
When you establish two separate households, the court may assume the ongoing support of both is reasonable. So what started off as a temporary solution often becomes permanent.
This often puts a strain on your finances in both the short and long term.
Related Reading: What to Expect from a Child Custody Hearing
Don’t Forget Your Paperwork
People often leave important items behind. Things that they need in the divorce and beyond.
Before you leave the house, be sure to collect:
- Bank records.
- Retirement account information.
- Credit card statements.
- Loan documents.
- Insurance policies.
- Birth certificates.
- Other financial records.
Don’t move out without them. And though so much is done online, paper statements and documents may still come to your home. Take steps to make sure you maintain access to this sort of thing.
Keeping important items with you also provides a little comfort that your items aren’t being ‘accidentally’ lost or ‘inadvertently’ set ablaze while you’re away.
Every situation is different. But in general, unless a court order specifically commands you to vacate, it may be in your best interests to put off moving out during a divorce. If you ultimately do, it benefits you to have a strategy already in place.
Related Reading: Bankruptcy Or Divorce: Which To File First
FROM THE RADIO
Our founding partner, Rick Jones, makes regular appearances on the Danny Bonaduce and Sarah Morning Show on KZOK, where he answers family law questions from listeners. Including a recent call related to this very topic.
CALLER: “I want to know, if a partner leaves the property, like moves out, is that person responsible for taxes and house insurance and stuff like that?”
Rick: “When you say a partner, are you talking a spouse, or a boyfriend/girlfriend?”
Caller: “My husband.”
Rick: “The key there is the difference. Yeah, the two of you, even while [one] moved out, still have this entity. You’re kind of like a business together.
“Unfortunately, you don’t have spouse-police running out there without the court’s awareness. So what you do need to do, if he’s not living up to what his obligations are, you need to get a case file so you can invite the state in on the disputes and allow them to rule here on a temporary basis and say what the two of you are responsible for.
“You’d ultimately work towards a permanent settlement in the divorce.”
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