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Should you move out of the family home?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2020 | Family Law |

Divorce almost always causes emotions between the spouses to run high. As a result, one spouse may be tempted to leave the family home. If you are currently in a situation that makes leaving more appealing than staying, you may want to carefully weigh the pros and cons of doing so. You may also want to seek the guidance of a legal professional. 

According to, moving out of the family home does not necessarily mean you lose your interest in it. Your decision may, however, influence other aspects of your case. 

Possibility of abandonment  

If you leave the family home without consent from your spouse, with the intent to leave the marriage and without communicating the matter to the other party, you risk losing your rights to the home in divorce. This is especially true if your spouse continues to maintain the home and pay for all expenses associated with it, while you contribute nothing. In the latter scenario, the judge may find you guilty of abandonment. 

Loss of input 

Except in extreme cases of abandonment, it is unlikely that your leaving of the family home will affect your interest in the property. Rather, the judge will likely divide the home and property within it in accordance with state laws. 

That said, when you leave the home before the divorce is final, you lose your right to control what happens within it — or to the items it holds. This means your spouse can modify the home without your input, sell items without your consent and even damage the property at will. If you want to retain separate assets, take them with you. If you want to hold onto certain marital assets or preserve the integrity of the home, consider moving into the spare bedroom and not out of the home. 

Expectation of privacy  

When you leave the family home before the divorce is final, you not only risk losing control over what goes on within the home but also, you lose your right to access it. Just like when you move into a new home or apartment you expect a certain level of privacy, so too does your spouse. Even though you shared the home while together, once you leave it, you cannot reenter and leave at your whim. You must have permission from your spouse, and he or she does not have to grant it. 

Child custody  

Though there are no laws that say you cannot leave the family home before divorce, many judges do take it into consideration when children are involved. If you move out without seeking legal help or temporary child custody orders, you may unwittingly sabotage your child custody case.