When you know your marriage has fallen apart and you feel the emotional upheaval that comes with it, there will come a day when you think it best to simply walk out the door with a suitcase and the money in your wallet. Do not do it! Contain this emotional decision until you put together and implement an exit plan to assure your rights and entitlements are protected. If you cannot possibly avoid leaving, you need to make your exit with wisdom and understanding of the legal, financial and emotional impact on you and your family. You need to make plans, not just walk out the door.

Though the following is general information for consideration before you move from the marital residence, each case has its own special needs, only some of which may not be contained below. These are merely general guidelines to give you a head start in making your exit plan.

Do Not Leave the Marital Residence

Leaving the marital residence is an extremely serious decision requiring planning and forethought. It cannot be a knee jerk reaction. You should never leave the marital residence unless there is absolutely no other reasonable option for you. It increases the financial burden on everyone involved and adds to an already stressful situation. Certainly there are situations where your or your children’s safety depends on your leaving and that must be your primary consideration. In all other situations in which you have no choice but to move from the marital residence, put together an exit plan that will make things as easy as possible as you proceed with your divorce, starting with financial considerations.

There are occasions when your spouse demands you leave the marital residence. Do not do it unless your safety is truly at risk. You cannot be thrown out of your own home merely by someone telling you to leave. Along the same lines, if you demand your spouse move from the marital residence, they are not obligated to comply.

Putting a Support Team Together

Whenever it is possible, before you move from the marital residence, put together a support team starting with an attorney highly experienced in divorce and custody matters. The attorney will be familiar with those specializing in what you require for the rest of the team such as mental health providers to help your children, evaluators, accountants or private investigators. Your attorney will have qualified people for these positions with whom they often work who have the experience you need for the circumstances of your specific case.

It is best to have your exit plan in place before you move so that you have information about how your actions will affect your particular case. For example, there may be reasons to stave off your move so that you do not lose or damage certain of your rights or for financial reasons in your particular situation or for custody reasons. No situation is identical to another, so what was good for your best friend who is trying to advise you may actually be damaging to your particular case.

If it is impossible to bring in your attorney to help you put together your exit plan in advance of moving from the marital residence, then you need to do it immediately after leaving to properly protect yourself, your children and your rights in the best possible way once you have moved out.

Financial considerations

The moment you leave the marital residence you have effectively doubled shelter expenses for the family as well as other basic living expenses for the family. When your paychecks covered all expenses while everyone was living under the same roof, you must now consider how you can stretch those paychecks to cover the expenses of an additional household. You need to consider how this additional home is going to be furnished and where the funds will be obtained to do it all. You must also be prepared for the potential of a decreased standard of living because running two households stretches even the most efficient of budgets to beyond its limits.

If you remain in the marital residence there would be no expenses for a second residence. Of course, this is an excellent reason not to move out.

Again, when you must move out for reasons of safety, when you or your children are at risk of harm, the finances are surely not your first consideration. Your safety and that of your children is far, far more important than these other considerations, though they will have to be addressed at the earliest possible time.

Legal Ramifications

Your moving out of the marital residence brings with it many legal issues that need to be immediately addressed including child custody, child support and spousal support. Your leaving can also give your spouse grounds for divorce against you, have impact on alimony, impact on ultimate distribution of the marital assets and tax ramifications.

Assuming you leave with your children, you must immediately address the issue of custody to avoid any claim that you are withholding the children from your spouse. You will likely need child support or even alimony to pay the expenses of the new residence. Alternatively, if you are the one who will be paying support and alimony, you certainly want to know those obligations in advance of your moving out.  Your leaving the marital residence will have an impact on all of this starting with your custody rights and, ultimately, your financial entitlements in a divorce action. If you remain in the marital residence, all of these potential problems and many of the legal issues can be addressed more efficiently without any negative impact on your rights and entitlements. There would be no need for temporary custody orders or child support or alimony if you remained in the marital residence until your divorce was completed and all of these issues decided before anyone leaves the marital residence.

Exit Plan: Before Leaving Marital Residence Part Two

Exit Plan: Before Leaving the Marital Residence, Part Three

If you need to discuss divorce planning, please Contact Diana, or call at 315-565-2760.