Should I Move out of the Marital Home Before We File for Divorce?

Remember Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of New York during 9/11? Well, Rudy went through a nasty divorce. During his divorce, he ended up living on the first floor of his home (with his mistress no less), while his wife lived on the second.

No one wants to pull a Rudy Giuliani during their divorce. 

It's weird to live in the same home when you know you're splitting up. And by weird I mean totally uncomfortable. You avoid each other at all costs. You set up little fiefdoms in the house and try to keep your spouse from invading your space. Like I said, uncomfortable.

Because of this, people always ask: should I move out of the house before we file for divorce?

Our answer is almost always "no," and here's why:

1. You set a precedent that makes it difficult to ask to live in the home when you get to Temporary Orders. If you move out and let your spouse live in the home for a while, then ask to move back in, you'll have a tough time convincing a judge to let that happen. It's much easier to ask to stay in the home if you've lived there the entire time.

2. Depending on the situation, you may end up paying the mortgage for your spouse without getting any benefit. Many times, the primary bread winner will move out of the house and will continue to pay the mortgage. Problem is the person who moved out doesn't get any benefit from paying the mortgage, which usually means that person has to live in a tiny apartment (or rent a single room), while the spouse gets the home.

3. If you have kids, the person staying in the home usually keeps the kids. This means the person leaving the home would have a difficult time asking for primary custody. (If you let your spouse exercise primary custody for a time, and then you ask for it, it's automatically an uphill battle.) 

So, unless there is a domestic violence situation, or you simply cannot deal emotionally with being in the home with your soon-to-be ex, our advice is to stick it out until Temporary Orders. Your commissioner will almost always let one person live in the home and order the other person to move out. This is especially true if you have kids.

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