Why Moving Out is the Biggest Mistake in a Minnesota Divorce?
Are you thinking of moving out when you’re going through a divorce in Minnesota? Many people convince themselves that moving out will definitely cut down on conflict with their soon-to-be ex and should certainly make the divorce easier.
The temptation is obviously great, and no matter how easy it is to justify moving out, it can be one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the divorce process. Even if the divorce starts out amicable, moving out before the final decree could negatively impact your rights and finances for years to come.
How Does Moving Out Affect Child Custody?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during divorce is moving out of the family home before child custody is decided. If you move out, it can look to the court like you are abandoning the children or are less dedicated to remaining an involved parent. This could tip the custody scale in favor of your spouse, resulting in you getting less time with your children.
Courts want to preserve the “status quo order” for children whenever possible, meaning maintaining their schedules, households, schools, etc. Judges are reluctant to change a child’s living situation or schedule if not absolutely necessary. Moving out of the home you shared with your kids can necessitate big changes that family courts prefer to avoid. Don’t voluntarily give up time with your children or make their lives harder in the eyes of the court.
How Does Moving Out Affect Spousal Support?
Spousal support, sometimes called alimony, is meant to help maintain the marital standard of living for a spouse post-divorce. If you move out of the home and your spouse has a significantly lower income, a judge may order you to pay her temporary spousal support to cover the wife’s living expenses and the mortgage. This can add to your financial burden exponentially while the divorce is pending.
Even if your spouse is the primary earner, moving out can still hurt you financially. The court requires the party who remains in the home to continue paying the mortgage and utilities during divorce proceedings. If your wife wants a divorce, but you move out, the court could order you to continue paying the marital home’s expenses despite having moved into a new place. Consult your family law attorney before making any moves.
How Does Moving Out Affect the Division of Assets?
Finally, moving out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized can negatively impact the eventual division of marital assets. The person who remains living in the home may slowly begin treating it as solely theirs, hiding assets, spending marital funds, or just becoming overly attached to the property. This can make negotiations much tougher when you finally split everything up equitably.
It is always easier to divide something when both spouses are on equal footing. So, if you move out early while the eventual division of property and assets is still up in the air, you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage. Don’t abandon the marital home prematurely and voluntarily, at least not without guidance from your divorce lawyer.
When is Moving Out a Must?
Of course, there are always exceptions. If living together becomes completely untenable, or you are concerned for your physical safety, moving out quickly may be your only real option. Just ensure any decision to leave the home is not made lightly or in anger. Speak to your attorney and consider all the legal implications before packing your bags.
Some other instances when moving out before the divorce is final may be unavoidable:
- Your spouse gets a protection or restraining order forcing you to leave
- One party has already moved in with a new romantic partner
- There are extreme verbal arguments or uncontrolled conflict in the home
Under these special circumstances, leaving the family home out of necessity is understandable. Just be sure to protect yourself legally with temporary support orders, scheduled parenting time, and retaining joint ownership of all assets. Never move out before at least consulting your divorce lawyer.
Strategies for Making It Work in the Marital Home
Staying in the marital home is the smartest legal choice in most divorces. However, residing with an estranged spouse under the same roof can understandably breed resentment and discomfort.
Use the tips below to reduce conflict while you navigate the divorce process:
- Communicate schedule changes in advance. Don’t spring adjustments to when you will be home or need alone time with your spouse at the last minute. Give them time to make arrangements.
- Split time fairly if possible. Consider sleeping in different bedrooms and aim to divide common spaces evenly.
- Be respectful of privacy. Knock before entering your spouse’s new room/space and give them alone time when requested.
- Maintain your normal parenting schedule. Keep splitting childcare, driving kids to activities, etc., per your routine.
- Document issues. If your spouse limits access to portions of the home or causes conflict, keep records to submit in court if needed.
- Consult your attorney. Ask your lawyer to file motions formalizing home access, a parenting plan, and more. Court orders can minimize disputes.
While it can be challenging, remember that staying in the home through divorce completion is temporary. Once you have agreements on custody and property division in place, either spouse can move forward with relocating. For the short term, focus on limiting family disruption by preserving normalcy.
Protect Your Interests with Strong Legal Guidance
At Martine Law, our compassionate Minneapolis divorce lawyers have seen many clients regret moving out amid divorce once they realize the consequences. We can advise you on the smartest legal strategies and approaches for your unique situation. Whether negotiating a temporary parenting plan so you can relocate safely or fighting inaccurate accusations of abandonment, we are here to protect your interests.
Going through a Minnesota divorce is difficult enough without compounding the challenges by moving out prematurely. Partner with knowledgeable counsel to make the best decisions for your family and finances during this challenging transitional period. Schedule a free case review to get started today.