Divorce Basics: When Should You Move Out?
Deciding when, or if, you should move out of the family home once you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce is often the first question people ask themselves. While there are some exceptions, the best answer is that unless your safety is at risk, you shouldn’t move out.
Why not? Well, the reality is that moving out sets a legal precedent. Basically, if you decide to move out and you find reasonable accommodations, a judge is likely to assume you had no interest in the family house, and so it should go to your spouse.
Additionally, if you and your spouse have children, a judge will not want to disrupt the status quo (assuming your children did not move with you) and will likely award the home to your spouse even if you really want to keep it for yourself.
How Moving Out Impacts Child Custody
Moving out can also have a dramatic impact on how a court views the matter of child custody. For example, if you move out and leave the children with your spouse, you’re implying–by your actions–that the other parent can provide a safe home for your children.
If your custody argument is based on the idea that your spouse can’t provide a safe home, you’ve just undercut your entire position by moving out.
- If you want to take the children with you, but your spouse won’t agree to it, you must go to court and get permission from a judge before you do so, or you may be charged with kidnapping. It should go without saying that not getting permission and being charged with a criminal offense does not look good during a custody hearing, not matter how bad a parent your spouse might be.
- If you do move out without the kids, make sure that you continue to spend significant amounts of time with them. If you fail to keep continuing contact with your children, your spouse may try to argue that you abandoned the children and therefore, lost the right to spend time with them.
When You Should Move Out
The major exception to the rule of not moving out is if you fear for your own or your children’s safety. Domestic violence is a very, very serious issue and if you fear your spouse may retaliate violently, you should contact your local police department and/or your attorney immediately.
Most police departments have units dedicated to assisting domestic violence victims, and they will help guide you through the process of maintaining yours and your children’s safety.
As you can probably guess, domestic violence charges often have a major impact on divorce cases and child custody. Your divorce attorney will help you navigate this issue to make sure the court is fully aware of your spouse’s offenses and how it has impacted your family.
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