Stay or Go: When Is the Right Time to Move Out?

Stay or Go: When Is the Right Time to Move Out in a Divorce?

Stay or Go: When Is the Right Time to Move Out?

If you and your divorcing spouse own a residence, it’s just about a guarantee that only one of you will be able to live there when divorce proceedings are complete. Occasionally, if agreements can’t be reached, courts will decree that assets like homes get liquidated, and the profits are split, but for primary residences, one former spouse will almost always end up with the house. But that doesn’t mean that during a divorce you have to move out. In fact, there are some arguments to suggest that staying in your home during the turmoil of a divorce is a smart move. Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should remain in your home during a divorce or vacate it.

Do You Feel Safe?

In the drama and tumult of divorce, arguments can rage. Occasionally, arguments can turn into physical violence. If you feel that there’s a chance that this could happen, or that the power dynamic between you and your former spouse is unhealthy and could lead to physical harm, get out of your house as soon as possible. There’s no reason to add a fear for your safety to one of the many other things you will be dealing with during a divorce.

Can You Handle It Emotionally?

Be honest with yourself: can you handle living in the same home as your spouse while divorce proceedings take place? If you and your former partner are undergoing a divorce out of mutual interests, and there isn’t ill will between the two of you, this probably won’t be an issue. But in the vast majority of divorces, one partner is more likely to want a divorce than the other, and a lot of emotional friction is the result. Even if the idea of marriage doesn’t shake up anybody’s feelings, the process of dividing assets can. So ask yourself, and be honest: can you handle the emotional minefield that will take over your home during a divorce? If not, it’s a good idea to leave your home during divorce proceedings, and spare yourself more pain down the road.

Do You Need to Stay?

Sometimes during the divorce, it can feel like too much change is coming too quickly, and staying in your home can be a way to keep a handle on something familiar during the course of the litigation. From that perspective, it might be a better idea to stay, and emotionally you may need to for your sanity. More often, the financial struggle of divorce may be putting a lot of pressure on you, and staying in your home is a temporary economic necessity.  Consider your current needs –  you don’t have to leave unless a court orders it.

Have You Talked To Your Spouse About Staying?

Often during a divorce, it’s just assumed that someone will leave. And if you want to be the person who stays, make sure you talk to your former spouse as early as possible about the idea. Or, if your spouse has already motioned that they want to stay in your shared home, talk about how you two could make it work so that you could stay too. It can feel uncomfortable talking about sharing a house that was once a home, but if you can’t speak about who is staying and who is leaving, or talk about the potential of both people staying, then you probably can’t handle staying under one roof together.

Have You Talked to Your Lawyer?

Once divorce proceedings begin, one of the first things you can ask your attorney about is whether or not you should leave your home. Your lawyer can advise you on the legal implications of staying, and talk you through when and why you might be forced to leave. They will also likely warn you against creating drama or friction with your former spouse and will talk about how precarious it can be to try to share a house during divorce proceedings. Don’t treat your lawyer like a counselor, but DO get their legal opinion on whether or not it’s a good idea to stay in your home while the divorce proceeds.

The Bottom Line?

Until a court orders you to leave your home, you don’t have to vacate your house during divorce proceedings. But while you don’t necessarily have to leave, it can be a good idea to do so from an emotional perspective. Whether or not you and your spouse can live under one roof during divorce proceedings is going to be a question that only you can answer, as every marriage and separation is different. Ask your lawyer about legal implications in your case, and listen to what you need, before deciding if you should stay or go.