Choosing to leave the home is a big step when considering a divorce. There could be many circumstances causing tension. Sometimes your wife is telling you to leave, or maybe she is having an affair and it feels extremely uncomfortable to continue to live together. Moving out takes careful consideration and should never be done on a whim or in the heat of the moment. Whatever the cause, moving out is almost always a mistake for the following reasons.
Reason #1: Financial stress - Living apart can lead to increased financial stress and disagreements. If you continue to live together at the beginning stages of a divorce and continue to share expenses, you are able to take advantage of what’s known as “economies of scale.” This means it is less expensive for two people to live together than for the same two people to live apart. Living apart means taking on a second set of bills, and whether its rent, utilities, or even just groceries, these bills are better shared.
Moving out can cause further financial stress if you have minor children because you could become subject to an immediate court order to pay child support, which is premature and unnecessary.
Reason #2: Minor children - If you have minor children, you can bet it is always best to stay put in the beginning stages of a divorce. Moving out with no discussion or game plan can lead to many disputes regarding custody and parenting time. Disagreements regarding a schedule for your children can be frustrating to you and your kids. Why disrupt your children’s lives and fight about it when you can live together, co-parent and see them when you want?
Reason #3: Legal stress and disagreements - If you begin living apart early on in a divorce case, you can expect additional legal issues to arise because of the separate living arrangements. Matters of custody, parenting time and child support (if you have minor children) will need to be addressed immediately. You can also expect potential disagreements regarding living arrangements, court orders regarding payment of the bills and potential spousal support.
Reason #4: Protection of real estate and personal property - If you move out, you are less likely to know what’s happening at the house. Is the lawn being mowed, or driveway being shoveled? Is normal maintenance and cleaning being done? Who is staying at the house? Living on the outside looking in can quickly become very uncomfortable. Your best chance at keeping an eye on things is to continue to live in the home. This will allow you to know the day to day activities, living conditions, as well as keep an eye on your personal items.
Reason #5: Losing all access to the house - Moving out can definitely carry consequences. Once a divorce case is filed, you could find you’ve been ordered not to return by the court. So if you need access, such as picking up personal items or making a repair, you may find that you cannot do these things anymore. Moving out can be an all or nothing situation, meaning either you live there and have access, or you move out and have none.
You may also find that you need access to financial records such as tax returns, paystubs, monthly bills, titles, or retirement account statements and these documents are at the house where you are no longer welcome or may even be court ordered not to enter. It is much easier to gather this information if you are still living at the home.
The only real exception to these reasons for staying in the home is violence or threats of violence. If you feel threatened or feel that continuing to live together could lead to physical harm, you should leave immediately - even if only temporarily - until you can get advice from a divorce attorney.
Living together at the beginning stages of a divorce is not necessarily easy, but it may be the best option when you look at the pros and cons of leaving. There are also compromises to an “all or nothing” arrangement. You could continue to live in the home but stay away a few nights per week to help keep the peace. Or, you could move into another room in the house such as the basement if necessary. The beginning stages of a divorce can be painful, but you don’t want to let emotions cause you to make the wrong decision. Anything to make this better for you in the long run. Or as they say, any port in a storm.