When a married couple files for divorce, it is not uncommon for one spouse to leave the family home to reduce conflict and make the entire legal process much easier. However, leaving your home may do more harm in your divorce case than good.
In most marriages, a couple’s largest asset is the family home. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse bought the house while you were married, then it is still part of the marital estate, and the value should be split.
However, if you are the household’s primary- or higher-earning spouse, you may still be required to continue paying household expenses (e.g., mortgage, utilities, and other bills) – even if you decide to move out. This would mean having to pay two sets of home-related expenses – on top of your legal fees – which is a less desirable situation.
Keep in mind, the fact that one spouse remains in the marital home during separation does not necessarily mean that the spouse will more likely keep the house once the divorce is finalized. Since New York is an “equitable distribution” state, community or marital property must be divided equally or fairly. So, if one spouse keeps the family home, the other will receives either money or other property of similar value.
If you and your spouse share children together, moving away would inherently mean spending less time with the kids. Therefore, the spouse/parent who remains in the home with the children can argue that he/she should be granted primary custody.
It is important to create a written – and court-ordered – parenting agreement prior to moving out to establish a parenting schedule and agree that the parent who moves out of the home does not give up any custody or visitation rights. Without a parenting schedule, not only may you lose more time with your kids, but you may also end up paying child support before the divorce is final.
Staying in the Marital Home Until the Divorce is Finalized
Unless you and your children are victims of domestic violence, staying in the family home is the best course of action because you still have access to your belongings and records, and you and your spouse may settle the divorce quicker by maintaining contact and constantly communicating. However, if you decide to leave, speak with your lawyer and make any custodial or financial arrangements prior to moving out.
If you are interested in filing for a divorce in the Bronx, contact Empire Law today at (347) 378-1170 to learn how we can help you. Schedule a free case evaluation immediately!