The most common question I get from clients considering divorce is whether or not they can move out of the house. Unless there is abuse, I normally tell them to stay where they are. There are many reasons for not leaving the marital home. The most important are:
- It could affect the interest you have in the property. If you move out and your spouse pays the mortgage the entire time your divorce case is pending a judge may factor that into any decision he/she makes about property distribution. If the situation becomes too stressful and you feel you have to move, try to continue to pay a portion of the mortgage payment. Document well any payments you make toward the mortgage.
- If you have school-aged children and you hope to be able to remain in the marital home until they finish school, the last thing you want to do is leave the home. If your spouse's income in greater than your income and you want to negotiate him paying the mortgage or part of the mortgage, you lose your ability to negotiate keeping the home once you leave it. Stay put!
Moving out of the marital home can have a negative impact on your case. Do not do it without first discussing the issue with your attorney. In some states, a judge will consider a motion from your attorney for temporary possession of the marital home pending divorce court. You can discuss this option with your attorney.
If there is abuse and you are unable to get an order of temporary possession then it is imperative to take whatever steps you need to protect yourself. Leave the home if you feel you are in danger. If there is a history of domestic violence, discuss it with your attorney because he may be able to legally have your husband removed from the marital home.
Step Nine: Keep a Journal
Buy a notebook or journal and keep an accounting of all major events that happen until the divorce is final. Note the date, what happened, and anyone who was a witness to it. Divorce cases can drag on for months. Things can start to run together in your memory or your memory may fail. It is best to write things down than to rely on your memory alone.
Do not discuss your journal with your husband. It is important to keep it a secret because his attorney could request a copy of it during the discovery phase of your divorce case. For this reason it is important that you take steps to keep it from becoming discoverable by the opposing counsel.
Step Ten: Be on Your Best Behavior
This final step in preparing for divorce may seem silly to some. I hope that it goes without saying and that anyone reading this understands that just because you are divorcing doesn't mean it is time to start partying and living like you have no responsibilities.
Divorce can mean being put under a microscope. If your case goes to court, you don't want to put ammunition in the hands of your spouse. Don't give him anything he can use against you!
That means, no dating, no partying, no hanging out till all hours of the morning. If custody is an issue in your case, you need to make your children your number one priority — which they should already be. Don't act like a good mother, be a good mother. This is an especially stressful time for your children and they need you to stay focused on meeting their needs.
If you become sexually frustrated, get over it. Sex is a luxury, not a necessity. Once you are divorced you can have all the sex you want. Until then, don't let your desire for sex put you in a situation a judge might view as questionable.
Spend time with friends, family and your children. Stay close to home, take care of yourself physically and emotionally, attend to your spiritual life and most of all, whatever you do, be above reproach. Behave yourself!
Come to think of it, this isn't bad advice for anyone, whether you are going through a divorce or not.
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