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Should I Move Out During a Divorce?

As stressful a situation as it may be for everyone to have two divorcing parents under the same roof, neither parent may want to leave. Not only does the marital home represent a huge chunk of a couple's property, but staying or leaving the residence can affect child custody too. There is also the enormous emotional value one can have for a home. So is it ever a good idea to leave the family home in a divorce? It will depend on your unique situation.

Now if you are in a situation with domestic violence, you should do what it takes to keep you and your children safe. You can ask a judge for a protective order, getting your spouse to leave the residence. In the meantime, if you fear for your kids' safety, you can move the kids out of the house. But you will need to get temporary custody as soon as possible, else you could open yourself up to kidnapping allegations.

How This Affects Child Custody in Long Island

For parents in non-violent situations, however, the decision of whether to leave or not can be much more difficult to make. Child custody and property division have a great deal to do with this. It might be clear that your two living together makes for an unhealthily hostile environment for your kids. But if you move out of the house, this could allow the other parent to keep the home after the divorce, perhaps even to have primary custody. This is because a judge will usually want to change as little as possible for a child, and if they stay in the family home, then a court could deem it ideal for them to stay there. Then the other parent could argue that is in a child's best interests for them to stay in the home with the child.

To avoid these problems, the parent who wants to move out should make a written agreement with the other parent, an agreement that stipulates that the parent leaving is not waiving rights, and an agreement that details a parenting schedule (if there are not already court orders in place). If you cannot create a parenting plan with your spouse, then you can ask a court to create one for you.

Financial Matters Affected by Moving Out of the Home

One of the immediate consequences of moving out would be doubling the bills you pay. You could be paying for rent at your current residence while still having to pay a mortgage for the family home, for example, plus the extra utilities you could be taking on. As for the future, however, your leaving the house may not matter. It is not automatic by any stretch that if your soon-to-be ex stayed in the house, they would win it in property division. In New York, property division is meant to be fair, even if that does not mean equal. So that principle is what would guide house ownership. Now if you move out of the house and you do not have a written agreement with your spouse about property division, then you should inventory your property, and only take your personal items with you.

Some Alternatives to Moving Out

In certain situations, a couple might be able to create a short-term arrangement where both parents can stay in the house together. One of these, called "bird-nesting", is when each parent lives in the house a week or two at a time, with the other parent living with friends or family the rest of the time. Or both parents could split the cost of a low-rent apartment to take turns living in. Or if your current space allows, you might be able to split up the house between you two. There could be common areas, or even a schedule for when you can use common areas. Granted, either of these is only an option for couples who still have a respectful relationship and a measure of trust. But with each unique situation there could be a unique solution that enables parents to not only minimize the costs of their divorce, but to also disrupt their kids' lives as little as possible.

When you need legal counsel on what to do in your situation, contact the Meyers Law Group, P.C. Our Long Island divorce attorney has the experience and passion it takes to get clients the fair and speedy resolution they deserve. Learn how our legal team may be able to help you in child custody, property division, or any other matter in family law.