Fight or flight is a natural human response to stress. But what if this is your marriage and you’re done fighting? Your instinct may be to flee the unhappy home you share. But as our Monmouth divorce lawyers can explain, there are some considerations that should give you pause.
Leaving the marital home can have adverse implications for your divorce. From child custody to division of property, your decision to leave the shared residence could impact the Court’s final ruling. At the very least, barring a situation in which you are in danger, it’s wise to first talk to a divorce lawyer about how this decision could impact your legal position.
Perhaps one of the most significant ways in which divorce may influence your case is with regards to child custody. Moving out inevitably means you probably won’t be spending as much time with your children. This can damage your relationship, but it might also hurt your custody or parenting time claims.
It’s true kids can pick up on tension in the home, and one parent taking their leave may ease that, at least in the short term. However, if it impedes your custody claim, that may result in longer-term damage.
In most cases, Courts try not to upset a child’s living situation or schedule in any dramatic way. That includes big changes to parenting time. That means the less time you spend with your children now, the less odds that time will increase when the divorce is final.
If you are set on leaving, it would be wise to meet with an attorney and work out a parenting plan that will protect your time with your kids. It’s also a good idea to be as active and involved as possible, which displays to the Court that you are committed to being a constant presence in their lives. The more you do that now, the more likely the Courts will arrange to have that continued after the divorce.
Division of Property
For most people, their house is the biggest asset they own. It’s also a big part of what’s on the table when it comes to equitable distribution in a New Jersey divorce, as outlined in NJ Rev. Stat. 2A:34-23.1. People who leave their marital home often forget to grab all kinds of records that come in handy in a divorce. Things like credit histories, bank statements, monthly bill records, loan documents, property records, life insurance policies, retirement papers and other financial statements may be important to a divorce case. But if you don’t get copies of them before you leave, you may be relying on your ex - which isn’t the greatest position to be in. Make sure if you do leave that you collect what you need before you go.
Consider too, that whatever possessions you don’t take with you may be difficult to recover. It’s possible your ex may damage your possessions out of spite. But it’s also harder to make a case for possession of things that you left behind.
Also consider that setting up a whole new residence is not cheap. It’s not just the rent. You’ll need to have furniture (including beds for your kids to sleep in), dishware, cleaning tools, etc. And you’ll be doing all this - probably for the first time in a good while - on a single paycheck. Make sure you have a plan before you jump into this – especially since you will likely be responsible for contributing towards the marital residence in the same manner you did while the marriage was in-tact.
Just because you’ve moved out doesn’t mean your responsibility for the bills has. You may still be expected to cover the monthly expenses in your marital home - even if you no longer live there. If you don’t do so while your divorce is pending, the Court may find your spouse is entitled to an offset during equitable distribution.
Again, this is something you should consult with an attorney about before making the move to see what steps can be taken to limit your risk.
Bottom line, it is possible to move out during a divorce. You might need to do so, especially if the situation isn’t safe. In general though, unless you are ordered to do so by a Court, wait to vacate until you’ve talked to a New Jersey family law attorney.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.