Does Moving Out of the Marital Home Mean You Are Abandoning the Home?

August 22, 2012

In short, the answer to this often answered question is no. When a relationship gets to the point of divorce, there are many reasons one of the parties considers moving out of the marital home. Certainly, if you decide to file for divorce or your spouse files for divorce (and serves you), you have every right to live in the marital home throughout the divorce process (2 month minimum without children and 6 month minimum with children---topic for another blog). However, if the living situation is simply unbearable, you may consider moving out since you're going to be living separately anyway in a matter of months. Of course, if you plan to try and keep the marital home following the divorce, it doesn't make sense for you to move out.

Examples of unbearable situations may include abuse (physical, verbal, etc.), substance abuse or other obnoxious or harmful behavior. There are many factors to consider before you move out (i.e. cost, ensure your personal belongings do not disappear, etc.) but if for your own mental well-being, you believe moving out is necessary, you will not be punished in the divorce process for leaving (or abandoning as many people incorrectly put it) the marital home. The marital home will still be an asset/liability to be equitably divided during the divorce process whether you've moved out or not.

Keep in mind, if you move out of the marital home, the parties must still maintain the status quo. That is, all of the household bills must continue to be paid in the manner that they always have been paid. So, by moving out, you now have an additional set of expenses so you should not take this decision lightly inasmuch as your right to remain in the marital home can provide you some necessary transition time to plan for your new financial situation. In addition, if you have children and you move out of the marital home during the divorce (or in anticipation of divorce), there will need to be an interim (or temporary) custody, parenting time and child support order to ensure that each parent maintains a healthy relationship with the children.

I do highly recommend you consult with a lawyer before you make the decision to move out of the marital home either prior to or during the divorce process. Please contact me for a free consultation to discuss this and any other important issue you need to consider.