Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “My wife has requested a separation and that I leave the marital home. I pay the mortgage and I know I have a right to stay. Before I move out, however, I want to understand the legal and emotion implications of my decision. What should I consider before I move out?”
The fact that you didn’t storm out when your wife demanded a separation and asked you leave was a good decision. Leaving a marital home can be a very emotional decision; one which is often made in the heat of the moment. The decision, however, can also be a very strategic one; one which needs to be considered thoroughly before any action is taken.
Separation: What questions should you ask before leaving the marital home?
- Can you afford to move out?
It is more expensive to maintain two households. Instead of leveraging everything from water, electricity, and a house payment, if you do decide to leave and rent an apartment, you will have to pay each of these bills twice.
If you are the primary wage earner you might have sufficient income to pay for at least half of these expenses. If you are not, however, consider whether you have sufficient money to maintain two households.
- Will you forfeit access to property and information?
If you own your own home you will not forfeit your legal right to your property by leaving. What you might lose, however, is easy access to information inside the home. While this may not seem important now, it could become very important months from now when you want to enter and exit the home at will.
For this reason, if you do decide to leave it’s important to gather copies of all of your legal documents and anything that belongs exclusively to you which may be of value. Remember that priceless record collection? Take it with you.
Experts also recommend taking pictures of certain assets so you have evidence of the condition they were in prior to your departure.
- How will my leaving the home impact my children?
Whether or not to leave your marital home may be a relative simple question if you do not have children. If you have children, however, the decision is very important.
If couples cannot agree on a custodial arrangement after divorce courts will try to create custodial arrangements which are in the best of the children. Although you do not have to create a full custodial plan prior to your departure, you do need to have an agreement with your wife about how often, where, and when you can visit with your kids.
Do not create any type of custodial arrangement that you do not want permanently enforced. Courts may review your separation custodial arrangement and decide that if it was working during the separation it can work fine after the divorce.
Finally, if you do decide to leave make sure you stay in close proximity to your kids. You should also remain actively involved in their lives and have plenty of room to accommodate their visits.
Bottom Line about separation:
Only you can decide whether remaining in the marital home has become psychologically harmful to you or your kids or detrimental to your physical and emotional health. Obviously, if you are the victim of any type of violence or your safety or that of your children is an issue you should leave immediately.
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