Divorce & Home Occupancy in Houston, TX
Should You Move Out of the Marital Home?
Forbes magazine online questions whether it is a good idea to move out of the marital home after you file for divorce.
What If We Have No Children?
The answer is that if you do not have children, it really doesn’t matter. Moving out of the house does not change your ownership interest in any meaningful way. For example, if you have a non-marital interest in the home, you will still have the same non-marital interest even if you move out. Similarly, your marital interest is preserved regardless of who lives in the house. The only time moving out might change your financial interest in the home is if one party solely assumes the payments, your spouse might be credited for the reduction in principle after you move out. That is likely to be a small amount in most divorces.
If you do have children, the party moving out of the home has a disadvantage in custody proceedings. This disadvantage may not be major, but it is always easier to argue for custody while living in the marital home—because it is presumed that children are best served by a stable living situation. This can be further complicated if special needs / handicapped children are involved. You have to be their best advocate in any case.
What If You Stay in the Marital Home?
Most of the time, the question clients ask me is not whether they should move out, but how can they get their spouse to move out of the home. The reasons why the spouse insists on staying range from financial to a simple desire to maintain continuity during a stressful time. My answer is that it is often in a couple’s financial interest to stay together during the marriage, if at all possible. If you choose this path, establish clear boundaries. Do not talk about divorce in the home or in front of the children. Schedule coffee meetings for these important discussions. Do not disparage your spouse either to your children, joint friends or to each other.
What If Living in the Marital Home Does Not Work Out?
If you or your spouse cannot keep these basic rules, you will want to hire an attorney to ask the Court for sole possession of the home or you will need to leave the home yourself. And of course, if things get violent, call 911 and seek a domestic abuse order for protection.