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Jim Moskowitz
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Should You Leave Your Marital Home during a Divorce?

Should I stay or should I go?  This is a question that is often asked.  Living arrangements during negotiations or the pendency of a divorce can be a tricky issue.  Whether you leave, your spouse leaves, or you both remain in the marital home during the divorce process depends on many factors.

Leaving your home immediately is advised if there is a legitimate concern about violent and/or abusive behavior.  However, when violence/abuse is not an issue, the decision to stay or go should be made only after considering the following factors:

  • Children: are you a parent and how will moving effect your children?
  • Hostility: if you choose to remain in your marital home, how will you and your soon-to-be-former spouse get along?
  • Legal issues: what, if any, legal issues could be affected by moving from or staying in the home?

Finances

Maintaining one home is often expensive.  Maintaining two homes obviously requires an increase in expenses.  So, the obvious question is:  do you have enough money to support a move?  The answer to this question must take into account the financial needs of both parties as well as the children.  Therefore, before separating, it is prudent to create budgets that will reflect the actual and anticipated monthly expenses for both you and your spouse.  This will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether your finances are sufficient to support two households.

Children

Absent circumstances that would require an immediate move due to safety concerns, it is extremely important that you consider all of the possibilities prior to deciding to move.  Leaving the marital residence could put you at a disadvantage in a custody dispute.  It can also create issues concerning the time each parent spends with the children.  There are many facts and circumstances that must be considered when determining whether or not to move.  Is your new home suitable for the children?  Is your new home inside your child’s school district?  Can you and your spouse reach an agreement concerning the time each of you will spend with the children?  Therefore, it is extremely important that you speak with your attorney about how a potential move will impact you, your children and your case. 

Access

Choosing to leave your home could limit access to certain information and belongings.  You can avoid a tense and inconvenient situation by planning ahead before you leave and doing so in an organized fashion. In addition to your personal belongings, gather important paperwork and take it with you. This includes:

  • Tax documents
  • Mortgage and bank statements
  • Retirement and other investment account information
  • Credit card statements
  • Titles or proof of ownership for property (such as vehicles)
  • Anything else related to property, debts, investments, etc.

It’s also a good idea to take an inventory of valuables you leave behind in the home.  If you and your soon-to-be-former spouse own (individually or together) anything of value, such as artwork, memorabilia, jewelry, clothing, etc., photograph and log details about each item before you leave.

Determining whether or not to stay in your marital home during your divorce is one of the toughest decisions you will face.  It affects everyone in your family and could affect the long-term decisions made by the court.  The attorneys at Moskowitz & Moskowitz, LLC have experience dealing with these issues and skillfully represent our clients in all aspects of family law.

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