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Family Law

Can I Move Out of the House if I am Ready to Separate?

Are you ready to move out now that you are separated? There may be consequences you have not yet considered.

We understand that once you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to separate from your partner/spouse, you may want to move out as soon as possible. Sticking around can be awkward and cause extreme tension. While we want to help you on your way to establishing your new normal as efficiently as possible, we have to be mindful of the implications that moving out may have.

Moving out of the house can impact whether you will owe alimony, or whether you will be entitled to alimony. You will frequently hear the term “abandonment” being used in these situations, and the specific facts of your situation will determine whether moving out will give your spouse grounds to claim abandonment. Moving out of the house can also create a situation in which you are no longer legally allowed to go back onto the property without permission from your partner/spouse, and the police may be called.

If you have children, moving out of the house has risks regardless of whether you take the children with you or leave the children with your partner/spouse. In the absence of a written agreement, taking the children with you may give your partner/spouse grounds to ask a Judge for emergency child custody, which will likely shape the way the Judge handles your case moving forward. If you leave the children with your partner/spouse, you may not have access to your children until a Judge orders that you have access, and that can take months.

Our married clients typically ask: Will I lose my right to any equity in the residence if I move out?  The simple/short answer is NO, as long as the house is considered marital property, you will not lose your rights to split any equity in the house that was built up during the marriage.  However, depending on the facts of your particular case, this may not necessarily be the case.

Meeting with one of our attorneys allows us to evaluate your living situation and help you craft a plan for separation that meets your immediate needs while also considering the long term effects of your decision and the best interests of your children.