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Many divorcing people ask themselves whether they should move out of the marital home. First of all, if you are in a dangerous situation and the only way to stabilize things and keepmove out of marital home yourself safe is to move out, then do so immediately, of course.  Nothing is worth compromising your safety. A little later in this article, we tell you what to do and what to take if you feel you must leave the home immediately for safety’s sake.If you have minor
children and wish to obtain either full or shared physical custody, it is best, if it is safe to do so, that you not move out of the marital home.

We had a client whom we’ll call Wayne whose wife had moved out of the home and went to live three blocks away at a friend’s home for the duration of their divorce because, as she apparently told our client, “I can’t wait to get away from you.” Well, this divorce took two years to finalize due to a lot of paperwork coming at us from wife’s attorney, many motions filed, and a packed court calendar.

Though our client’s wife remained involved in their three children’s lives on a nearly daily basis, they never spent the night with her due to a lack of space at the friend’s house. Essentially, they were living with Dad, our client, full time.

When it came time for the judge to make a decision on physical custody, it was easy enough for us to get the judge to grant our client full physical custody because the judge was naturally reluctant to uproot the children from Dad’s house for several days each week. Wife was told by the judge to get her own place and have the children spend her visitation weekends there with her and ask again in no sooner than six months about changing to a shared custody arrangement.  Wife lost out on her desired shared custody because she was too quick to leave the marital home.

So, unless you are in immediate danger, it might be best for you to bite the bullet and stay put. If you do leave because it is not safe for you to stay, be sure to get all of your important financial documents and records and take them with you. It’s even more crucial to do this if you are forced to leave the house by the court or the police.  If this occurs, you are not likely to be allowed back in until after a court hearing, if at all.

This is a list of most commonly-needed documents in a contested divorce situation:

  • tax returns
  • paycheck stubs if you are an employee
  • 1099s if you are a freelancer or independent contractor
  • mortgage loan documentation
  • car titles if you own your vehicle(s) free and clear
  • bank statements
  • brokerage account statements
  • loan agreements with family or friends if applicable
  • stocks and bonds you have on hand
  • credit card statements
  • loan documents for any outstanding loans

Take photos of any high-value artwork, collections of value, such as baseball cards, memorabilia, jewelry you can’t take with you (if you’re a man that would be your wife’s jewelry), even high-value clothing such as high-end handbags (Louis Vuitton, etc.)

The next thing to do, if you are moving out and your children are staying in the marital home, is to find a place to live nearby.  When the judge decides on physical custody, you are a lot more likely to win shared physical custody if the children’s school and extra-curricular activities’ schedules will not be disrupted by going from one home to the other.

Be sure to have your children spend time with you overnight as much as possible in your new home so that you are already following a semblance of a shared parenting schedule when you get to your day in court. The judge will want to know that the standard of living for the children in your new home is similar to what they are accustomed to in the marital home.

It’s sometimes a tough decision to make, but if there is any way possible, it’s probably best to stay in the marital home until everything has been decided.

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