The first thing you might want to do after filing for divorce is move out of your family home and get some time and space away from your ex-spouse. This is entirely understandable but also generally discouraged by divorce attorneys and legal professionals. Whether you realize it or not, packing up and shipping out on your own accord can seriously and negatively impact your side of the divorce proceeding.
If you surrender the familial home to your spouse, it could affect your:
- Child custody rights: Your decision to voluntarily leave your home and children to your soon-to-be ex-spouse will be interpreted by the court in two ways: you think your spouse is a responsible parent, and you aren’t interested in full custody. You might object that this is not true but, alas, actions speak louder than words.
- Share of marital assets: If the first thing you do is get out of your house, you have made the court’s job much easier and your own life much more difficult. When it comes time to decide who gets to keep the home, the judge may be inclined to say, “Your ex-spouse is already in there and you are settled elsewhere, so the home goes to them, not you.”
- Control of your own property: It may have not crossed your mind because it should be unthinkable, but if you get your essentials and go, the rest of your property is subject to damage caused by your ex-spouse. In particularly heated contested divorces, it is not uncommon for someone to come back to collect their things, only to find that a piece of jewelry has gone missing or their laptop doesn’t turn on anymore.
- Personal finances: Leaving your home and renting or buying a new place right away can be a huge financial strain. The court can order you to still pay part of the mortgage on the family home while the divorce unfolds, meaning you’re effectively paying double rent. You could also be ordered to pay temporary spousal support or child support for stepping out without waiting, even if you make less money than your spouse.
Remember: there is no automatic obligation for you to leave your home, no matter who has paid the majority of the mortgages. If you want to stay, stay. You can pursue a petition for temporary exclusive possession of your family home if the divorce was caused or triggered by your ex’s behavior; if approved, the court will order your ex-spouse to live elsewhere until the divorce is finalized.
If you or your children are in danger of domestic violence, do not stay in your home. Get yourself to a safe location, find a place to stay in the meantime, and get legal help right away. If you live in Rhode Island and are going through a divorce, you can call 401-400-4254 to connect with the Providence divorce attorneys at TJC • ESQ. We can work with you through virtually anyfamily law dispute and help you protect your best interests all along the way.
Contact us today – we also serve clients in Connecticut.