A divorce can be a stressful and draining process for a lot of people. More so if it is a hostile divorce and the spouses cannot seem to agree on anything. One of the spouses may decide that leaving the house they are sharing with their spouse may be the best choice because it will reduce the amount of arguments between the parties and it may make the divorce process easier. However, it is important to consider the consequences before making a decision. It may be difficult to leave the family home as there is probably going to be some emotional attachment; there is also a financial aspect to consider.

What if it is an abusive environment?
It is recommended to leave the home if there someone suffering from domestic abuse and to do what anything they can do to make sure they are safe, this can include asking the judge for a protective order or even asking the court to order the spouse that is causing the abuse to leave the house. It is also ok to leave the house while the court is review the request that was filed, in fact it may be the best course of action. If there are any children involved, it is also a good idea to take the children out of the violent environment.  However, if your are the spouse that is seeking to get away from the abuse and you also take the children with you, then you should also strongly consider asking the court for temporary custody so will not be accused of alienating the other parent or of kidnapping your children.

If the situation does not include any domestic violence – but there is still some sort of verbal abuse and tension between the divorcing spouses there is still the issue of what is in the best interest of the children on a short and long-term basis.  Most people would agree that children should not have to live in a situation where they on a daily basis see their parents argue or one parent be verbally and mentally abused.  When making the decision whether to leave the house, the consequences on the children and the property should be strongly considered and a priority.

What about the children?
While the parents are divorcing each other, the children sometimes get caught in the middle. Sometimes, the impact a divorce has on the children’s lives depends on how the parents are treating each other in front them so this is considered when determining whether a parent should move out. Most judges are aware that too many changes too fast may be very difficult for the children so they try to keep things as how they are until the divorce is finalized.  However, if the situation is bad enough, the court may take immediate action. To avoid any negative impact on the children, one of the parents might argue that having both of them living in the same house because there will be too much grief, while the spouse that moved out will say that it was with the intent to avoid any unnecessary conflict. The parent moving out may feel like they will lose their children.  To avoid this they can do two things:

  • the first is to reach an agreement with the other spouse on creating a parenting schedule and stating that the spouse that moved out did not forfeit any rights;
  • the second is asking the court to create a shared parenting schedule, this is can be done if the other spouse is unwilling to reach an agreement.

What about the house?
Another impact that leaving the house will is the effect on the finances. There will be reduction on the income that supported that house, so figuring how to make adjustments is important. It is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to continue living together due their being a significant financial strain if one of them tries to obtain get a new house. It is also important that if the spouse that has the higher income leaves the home, they will have to continue to pay most of the household expenses, this includes the mortgage and any insurance payments; meaning that they will be in the worst position.

Also, it is important to understand that because one of the spouses moves out does not mean that they will not be eligible to keep the house after the divorce. If the house was bought during the marriage it is considered marital property which means that it must be divided equally between the divorcing spouses. Since the house cannot physically be divided, the spouse that doesn’t keep it must be compensated in some other way for their half, like other assets that are the same worth such as savings or retirement accounts. It is also important to take note of the property in the home.  For example, if you are moving out of the home, you should also should create an inventory of everything in the house and take detailed pictures of every room in the home.  This inventory and the pictures can be very helpful later when trying to settle the divorce case or to show the court in a trial.

Staying in the home as leverage to get a divorce settlement.
Sometimes staying in the home may actually speed up a divorce if the case can be settled. For example, if your spouse is wanting you to move out – and you hold the position that you will move out when there is a signed divorce settlement agreement, this may incentivize your spouse to settle sooner and for better terms. In the alternative, if you just move out with no settlement in hand – then your spouse may have little incentive to settle the divorce case with you quickly because your spouse already has most of what they wanted anyway – you out of the house.  This strategy usually works best in marriages with no minor children where the party staying the home wants the other party to move out as soon as possible.

Alternatives to moving out of the home.
If there is some conflict that needs to be resolved, but the spouses believe that simply moving out is not the solution and they can work together, there might be some other options that could work. One option is to alternate who lives in the house with the kids from time to time. Some of our clients will actually rent an apartment close to the marital home and alternate weeks in the home and in the apartment.  This is especially helpful in cases that may take several months to resolve.  This keeps the children in the house and the parents are the ones that move around, which might be for the best.

Another option, if space permits, is to divide the house into separate living spaces, and have some common areas that are used as needed. Plans like these take effort and cooperation between spouses. It is also worth noting that in some cases, a divorce can only be finalized after the spouses have been separated for a certain period of time, so it is advised for the souses to take that into consideration as well.

If you are facing a divorce and you are trying to decide whether to move out of the home or not, call us at 770-408-0477 to speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys now.