After deciding to divorce, the last thing you want to do is continue living with your soon-to-be ex. However, that is exactly what you should do. Moving out of the home before seeking legal advice is not a good idea. Unfortunately, that is often what happens.
Why should you stay in the marital home?
Courts are unlikely to upset the status quo
If you have children, moving out of the family home may reduce your parenting time. Moving out of the family home and leaving your children with the other parent – even if you see them frequently – may reduce your parenting time. If you move into a small apartment, there may not be room for your children to stay overnight with you.
Courts are hesitant to rock the boat too much, often determining custody based on the “status quo.” This desire to create stability for children may lead the court to issuing temporary orders granting your ex primary physical custody of the children while your divorce is pending. And, there is a good chance that order, or an arrangement close to it, could end up as the final decision.
By staying in the family home, you are sending a clear message to the courts that you are invested in your children and want to be highly involved in their lives.
Moving out could also impact your finances
During divorce, all marital property is divided and spousal support/alimony awards are made. Courts take the status quo into consideration during this process as well.
For example, if you are the primary breadwinner there is a good chance you will continue to pay the mortgage and utilities even if you move out. Now, you are paying for two places – your former home and your current residence. Or, if your spouse does not pay the mortgage, you may be forced to in order to avoid foreclosure. Upon your vacate of the marital home your spouse can file for support and a mortgage deviation may be added to your support order to help support the cost of the mortgage and any home equity loan attached to the marital residence.
Like custody arrangements discussed above, this can result in a temporary order that turns into a final decision. If you were able to pay for both residences while the divorce was pending, why not continue doing so?
The end of a marriage is a highly stressful and emotional time. It can be hard to remember that decisions made in the heat of the moment can have lasting legal consequences. If you are considering divorce, or have made the decision to divorce, the best way to ensure your rights are protected is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.