One of the big questions for those filing for divorce is whether one spouse should find their own place to live while the divorce is ongoing. There are many reasons—and at least one essential reason—why moving out can seem like a good idea. Couples going through a divorce often do not feel particularly friendly toward one another—hence the divorce. If a couple can barely speak to one another in a civil manner, it would seem to be a better option for one spouse to move out than endure the conflict.
The essential reason for one spouse to move out is when there is a history of domestic violence. You should never have to live somewhere you are not safe, so if you are a victim of domestic violence, either take legal steps to remove your abusive spouse from the home or move out yourself.
If it is just a matter of being uncomfortable, you might want to temporarily deal with it—since there are many reasons not to move out before your divorce is finalized. These reasons include:
- Damage Custody. If you have children, moving out before the divorce is final can potentially damage custody decisions. By moving out, you are essentially saying you don’t spend as much time with your children as your spouse does.
If you feel you must move out before the divorce is final, have a parenting plan or custody arrangement established and in place. This will help protect your future time with your children. If there is no agreement on a temporary parenting plan when you move out, you risk being denied parenting time and may be required to pay child support payments while the divorce is in progress—because you have fewer overnights. This is especially an issue if you move into a small apartment or move in with friends or family members in a space that lacks sufficient space for overnights with the children.
- Financial Support. If the court sees that you can financially support two households after you move out, you may have set a precedent that the judge will expect you to continue after the divorce. This can adversely affect any alimony you are ordered to pay or even the distribution of marital assets.
Since the marital home is often a couple’s largest asset, moving out prematurely–especially if you are the primary wage earner—can lead to additional financial complications.
A “status quo” order could be instituted, requiring you to continue paying the monthly marital bills the same as you did before you moved out. There is, however, a flip side to this. If you move out and your ex can manage the finances and home maintenance alone, it can set a precedent for lower alimony payments.
- Lose Access. Once you move out of the marital home, you may lose access to paperwork that can be crucial to the finances of your divorce. Before you move out, such things as life insurance policies, loan documents, credit card payments, bank statements, retirement information, tax returns, and other financial documents should be duplicated, so both spouses have access.
- Lose Assets. If your ex is angry with you, anything you leave behind in the marital home could “mysteriously” disappear. Many spouses have moved out of the marital home as a way of avoiding conflict, only to find that some of their most prized possessions disappeared.
Leaving access to your things with an angry, vindictive spouse is rarely a good idea. The spouse remaining in the marital home might even file a request for “exclusive possession” of the home after you move out. While such an award has no bearing on your long-term claim to the house or the contents, it can prevent you from visiting the house during the divorce or collecting crucial belongings.
If you still think moving out is the best course of action, talk to your Georgia divorce attorney before you make a final decision. Before you leave, do the following:
- Make copies of all important paperwork
- Take photographs of assets that are important or are worth a lot and keep them in a safe place along with a list of assets
- If you have children, choose a moving site that is close to your children’s school(s) and the marital home whenever possible
- Have temporary child custody and visitation arrangements in place before you move out, preferably with help from the judge
- Have a financial plan in place that clearly shows which spouse will pay what during the divorce.
Contact Our Atlanta Divorce Lawyers
At Hobson & Hobson, P.C., our Atlanta divorce attorneys know that living with your ex is not ideal. However, we want to protect your interests during the divorce in every way we can. Sometimes, that means staying in your marital home.
If you are considering a divorce, we can help. We work to help you move through the divorce process smoothly and efficiently whenever possible.
Attorney Sarah Hobson at Hobson and Hobson, P.C. are powerful advocates for those who fight for better futures for those going through divorce and custody law matters.