Should I Move Out of the House Before I Divorce?

Whether it’s holiday stress or something else, the circumstances leading up to a decision to separate or divorce can be tense, leading many to want to immediately move out to get some physical separation from their spouse. Even though you might want to move out of the house ASAP, should you move out of the house before you divorce?

While the should is up to you, you’ll need to make sure you have a few things straightened out before you move out.

First, get an agreement with your spouse, preferably in writing (e-mail or text would suffice), as to temporary or interim parenting time.  While there is an exception in the case of domestic violence, moving out before you start divorce proceedings without an agreement as to time with the kids may affect your claim that you are the primary parent.  Worst case scenario, if your spouse refuses to let you see the children after you move out it will likely be over a month before you can get in front of a judicial officer to get an order to see your kids.

Second, make copies of (or make sure to keep the originals of) any important records, such as financial documents, your social security card, or a prenuptial agreement. This is an important step that many people forget before they leave. In most instances, once you’ve moved out, your spouse probably isn’t going to welcome you back into the house with open arms to retrieve anything you’ve forgotten, and documents such as financial records will prove invaluable during divorce proceedings.

Make sure you have everything you need before you leave, and if possible, copy any computer hard drives to retain information and write down user names and passwords to all accounts.  If you can’t make copies or they are in a locked cabinet, it’s not the end of the world.  You can typically get a copy of missing documents – many of which are available online – should your spouse change the locks, etc.

Third, consider engaging or consulting with an attorney before you move out. While moving out of the house doesn’t mean that you are waiving rights to the kids, the house or the personal property and furniture in the house, a divorce attorney can alert you to any other loose ends you may want to tie up before you officially leave you and your spouse’s residence for good.

In some cases, moving out during a divorce is what is best for both parties and their children.  Just make sure that you cover all of your bases. Still have questions? Contact us.


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