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Should I Move Out Before My Divorce Is Finalized In Texas?

The thought of living with your spouse after filing for a divorce can be a challenging one to come to terms with. Your first instinct may be to leave this situation as quickly as possible, but there are a number of reasons why it is likely to be in your best interest to stay in your family's home until the divorce is finalized. If there is no cause to be concerned for you (or your children's) safety, this is probably the case.

Woman sitting in front of a house.

If you own a home and it was purchased during your marriage, the home's equity should be divided evenly post-divorce regardless of whether either spouse has moved out. (Equity is how much the house is worth minus how much is owed on the mortgage.) Generally, leaving the home before your divorce is finalized could weaken your position in court if there is a fight over the home or who is able to stay in the home post divorce. This assumes that one of you can afford the mortgage on their post divorce income.

If the spouse who earns less in the relationship wants to, they can request temporary orders that require the higher earning spouse to continue paying a portion of the mortgage, utilities, and insurance if the higher earning spouse moves out. This means that the higher earning spouse would be responsible for paying their own bills at their new home in addition to paying a portion of the bills at the home they shared with their spouse.

If one party moves out of the house with an understanding that the spouse staying in the home will pay the mortgage, insurance and utilities, the spouse that is moving out is exposing their credit to risk. If the spouse that moved out in this case is named on the mortgage and utilities, and the spouse staying in the home fails to pay the monthly bills, it could wreck the credit of both spouses regardless of who is living in the home. By staying in the home and continuing to communicate regarding the bills, it helps ensure that this doesn’t happen.

If you have children, leaving the family home could impact child custody and child support rulings when the divorce is finalized. If there is a disagreement regarding either of these topics, and it goes before a judge, the judge will try to create the safest and most stable situation possible for the children. By choosing to move pre-divorce, you may accidentally create a situation that could be viewed unfavorably by a judge. For example, if you were awarded primary custody and it required that your children change schools or move out of their family home and into a less ideal dwelling, it could be viewed as a worse situation than awarding your spouse primary custody. Of course, this depends on where your spouse plans to live post-divorce too. There are many variables to consider when it comes to your strategy for child custody and child support. If the final terms for child custody and child support matter greatly to you, hiring an attorney and consulting with them before making any decisions regarding living arrangements is the right move for most people.

If you are in a situation where you fear for you or your children’s safety, this changes the situation drastically. While the above items could still be impacted, safety is more important. While consulting with an attorney prior to making a decision on moving out will help you reach the best results for you regardless of your personal situation, it is especially true if you or your children’s safety is in question. An attorney can help protect you and your children while limiting the risks described above by using Temporary Restraining Orders or Protective Orders that are filed strategically around your divorce filing.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233. If your spouse is abusive to you or your children, seek help through this number, local law enforcement, and an attorney.

On a lighter note, if your divorce is amicable, you do not have children, and you and your spouse do not own a home that was purchased during your marriage, the impact of moving out of the home you share with your spouse could be very limited. If you have the means to hire an attorney, it would still be wise to consult with your attorney before making a decision one way or the other.

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