As Atlanta divorce attorneys, we are often asked: “Should I move out? If I do, what are the repercussions and what are the benefits?” Because the facts and situations of each case are different, it is difficult to provide a general answer to this often asked question. In our experience though, the following should be considered by anyone facing the above question.
- Are you seeking custody of your children? If so, remain in the marital home if at all possible. If you leave the marital home, it may be more difficult for you to obtain primary physical custody of your children because courts tend to favor custodial arrangement that maintain the child’s established custodial environment. Put plainly, if your children are used to coming home to Dad every day after school, it is more likely that Dad will be awarded primary physical custody.
- Do you want to keep the house post-divorce? Do not move out of the marital home if you plan to retain the home post-divorce. In our experience, the spouse who remains in the home initially is more likely to be awarded temporary and eventually permanent exclusive possession. What this means practically is that if you leave the marital home, even if you only intend the move to be temporary, you may be setting yourself up to lose the home permanently.
- Are you taking your possessions with you? This is one question that many do not consider until it’s too late. Keep in mind, if you move out of the home you will lose considerable control over any personal possessions or property you may leave in the home. So, in order to ensure that your spouse does not dispose of or damage any personal property that you wish to retain post-divorce, remain in the marital home. If you are simply unable to bear remaining in a home with your soon to be ex-spouse, as a precaution take an inventory of the possessions in the home prior to departing. This way you will be able to prove what should be in the home should any of your possessions go missing.
- Who’s going to pay the bills? Two households are more expensive than one. Although this seems like a simple concept, many individuals do not think of the actual expense of maintaining two separate households in their haste to physically separate. For example, upon separation there will be two mortgages or rent payments instead of one, two sets of utility bills, and two grocery bills, only to name a few. The situation may be compounded if one spouse is a stay at home parent because the financial obligations that come with supporting two households will generally fall on the shoulders of the working spouse. Although it may be unpleasant, remaining in the marital home helps reduce the financial strain that often accompanies divorce.