One of the first things that often happens when a couple considers divorce is that one of the spouse’s moves out of the marital home. Though this impulse is understandable, leaving the marital home during the marriage, or too soon before divorce, could hurt you in the upcoming divorce case.
You Don’t Have To Leave
If your name is on the mortgage or lease agreement, you are under no obligation to leave your home unless a judge has ordered you to do so. It doesn’t matter if you are the spouse who files for the divorce or not, husband or wife. If you are legally entitled to live on the property, your spouse cannot force you to leave.
Don’t Be Accused Of Abandonment
When determining which parent should get custody of your children and how much timesharing each of you should receive, the court will look at the children’s daily routine and the contact that the children are accustomed to having with each spouse, and why.
Though it is often an unfair viewpoint, spouses who leave the marital residence can be seen as abandoning their families. Though the spouse may have left because of fighting and conflict within the home, it is difficult to tell a judge that you need or really want to have custody when you haven’t actually lived with them for the past year.
Maintaining Stability For The Kids
During a divorce, the court will attempt to keep the living situations and other arrangements as close to the status quo as possible. Without a compelling reason, a court will not order children to change schools or switch residences in order to keep their lives free from interruption.
When you move out of the marital residence, you are maintaining a new status quo and changing your children’s daily routine – even if they don’t move, too. In order to maintain the best bargaining position and have some control over where you and your children live, you should avoid creating a new arrangement between your former spouse and the children until after the divorce is finalized.
When To Leave Immediately: Domestic Violence
That being said, if your spouse is violent or abusive you should always leave the house. If you have children, you have a responsibility to look after their wellbeing as well. If the violent spouse refuses to vacate the home, you should work with a family law attorney to get a restraining order from the court which will force that spouse to move out and will help keep you and your children safe.
If you are considering divorce and don’t know if you should move out of the marital home, or you already have and you are worried about hurting your case, you should speak with a qualified family law attorney as soon as possible. The DiPietro Family Law Group has teams of experienced family lawyers in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.
Contact us to schedule a consultation today at (888) 530-4374.