As Philadelphia divorce attorneys we see clients who have made a lot of problems for themselves and their divorce before they ever walk through the door. It’s no reflection on them—this is an emotional time, and mistakes are easy to make.
But we do wish we could warn them in advance, which is one of the reasons why we have this blog in the first place.
And what’s one of the most common mistakes? Moving out of the marital home nearly from the moment the desire to get a divorce is announced by either spouse.
Why People Do It
People make this mistake for two reasons.
The first is purely emotional. If you want a divorce you tend to want to get away from your soon-to-be-ex spouse as quickly as possible. Tensions are rising, and the household has become an uncomfortable battleground.
Sleep in the spare bedroom if you must, but don’t let emotions rule your decision. Because the second reason is a whole host of misperceptions about fiscal responsibility during the divorce.
The Big Lie
You might believe the marital home becomes the spouse’s sole problem from the moment you walk out of there. The spouse is, after all, using the home, so why should you have to pay for it?
Unfortunately, you’re not divorced yet. Your name is still theoretically on the lease or the mortgage. Your income is still part of the marital property. Leave your spouse to make payments on the house all by himself or herself and those payments could be counted against you when it’s time to divide up the marital property.
Meanwhile, you’re now paying for a second dwelling, adding financial strain to a time that is already incredibly financially stressful for most.
It shouldn’t make a difference, but judges are human too. If you are also leaving your kids in the family home with the spouse you may give your spouse a slight edge in any custody battle, since it will look a lot like even you agree your spouse is typically responsible for most of the parenting duties. There are ways around this, but you should be aware perception is powerful.
These perceptions can also have an impact on things like spousal support. For example, you might choose to go ahead and pay for the marital home and your new home, which meets your financial obligations. But there’s a Catch-22. Meeting financial obligations tied up in your old home from your new temporary dwelling while the divorce is being processed certainly shows you have an ability to do so, which means you could end up paying spousal support you might not have paid if you’d just stayed put.
Talk to an Attorney
If you feel like your spouse can force you out of the home for some reason, be sure to talk to an attorney before you make the leap. This will allow you to find out if you’re right. Obviously, if you’re in fear of your life you may need to take this step, but if you’re just avoiding discomfort, stay uncomfortable a little longer. It may well pay off in the long run.
Got questions about your divorce? Struggling to figure out your next steps? Contact our offices for your free consultation.