One of the first considerations that comes to mind for many people considering a divorce is where to live during the proceedings. Especially for married couples who own a house together, this can be a challenging topic to consider for a number of reasons.
On an emotional level, the common desire is to move out and start becoming independent once again. Moving out of the house can minimize the amount of drama and may be tempting, but there are some things to do before finalizing this decision.
Keep Track of Documents of The Condition of Property
One thing to do before moving out of a jointly owned home is to take account of all documentation of shared assets. Securing copies of documentation of jointly held assets and debts, income statements, tax returns and property valuation papers will in most cases prove to be beneficial. A divorce lawyer may be able to help with identifying and gathering the necessary paperwork.
It is also important to secure copies of a spouse’s financial information as well. Proof of income is especially significant and will be helpful when entering into negotiations about an equitable split in property and discussions about support payments.
In some cases, it is advisable to take photographs of certain property. Documenting the condition and location of certain physical assets that may be subject to division may help the split of those assets move along more quickly. This may also limit a former partner’s ability to hide or shield property during the division process.
Loss of Control
Leaving the family home and assets in the care of a former spouse may heavily limit a person’s ability to supervise how assets are maintained. For example, the spouse who moves out of the home may not be able to control different types of repairs or preservation techniques that are employed if he or she moves out, and this can have implications on the future value of the property.
In addition, in contentious divorces, leaving the family home could result in stolen belongings or mismanaged physical assets. By staying in the house, a spouse retains a sense of control over the space simply because he or she is present. This can help to secure a financial future after the divorce.
Spouses who separate but are both listed on the mortgage or deed to the house may both be expected to pay toward the mortgage, utilities or other expenses. While the divorce is proceeding, most family court judges prefer to keep the financial status quo, and this may mean that both parties are responsible for contributing to the expenses according to the previous payment arrangements.
Under certain circumstances though, this may result in additional cost for the individual moving out of the family home. It may be difficult to continue paying for the mortgage and utilities required on the home while also handling the expenses of a new residence.
The divorce rate for couples who have children is slightly lower than the rate for couples without children. However, if children are involved, a judge will in most cases require them to remain in the marital home until the divorce is finalized. This means that the spouse moving out will have to leave the children behind until all the divorce paperwork is signed. Without a legally binding document detailing custody, the spouse who lives in the jointly owned house may try to make power plays with regards to the children.
If a person is intent on moving out of the home, the new house should be close enough to the marital house to convince a judge that the leaving spouse is serious about being in the children’s lives. This may go a long way toward achieving certain custodial rights. Certain proximity is required for getting overnight visitation rights following the divorce during the week, and the location of the new home can also have an effect on the children’s schooling. To maintain consistency for them, it may be best to have a future home be within the children’s current school district.
Each Case Is Different
Every divorce involves varying factors that can influence a person’s decision to stay in the home or move out. While many of the questions and discussions above provide general guidelines and issues to consider, very few actions make a divorce easier in all cases. However, a divorce attorney may be a valuable resource for those involved in complicated divorce proceedings. Professional legal advice can help a person understand the different benefits and drawbacks of moving out of the family home as the action applies to their particular situation.