Should I move out of the marital residence?

Be sure to consult with an attorney before leaving the marital residence. Many people who go through a divorce regret leaving the marital residence due to the repercussions, even though at the time it seemed like the only logical thing to do.

Leaving the home is typically defined as actually taking personal items with you (clothing, automobile, sentimental possessions, etc.) and acting as though you are going to declare a new residence for a significant amount of time. Many spouses will storm out of the house and sleep a night or two at a friend's or relative's house. This typically does not constitute leaving the marital residence.

Once you leave the marital residence for a reasonable amount of time (this can vary depending on the situation), it may be difficult to return. It is suggested that an agreement in writing is drafted stating that reentry into the marital residence is an option, but as a significant amount of time passes an agreement of this type has very little leverage in the court.

The primary reason for consulting a lawyer prior to making this decision, is to avoid the accusation of desertion. Desertion in many states carries with it significant legal repercussions. Some states consider it as a ground for filing for divorce, but, above all, it can work against you in child custody disputes. The court may view you leaving the marital home as also you leaving your child(ren).

Keep in mind that once you leave the marital residence, your spouse may not have the enthusiasm to proceed with the divorce in a timely and amicably manner. Typical spouses who are in the process of divorce and who are still living together tend to be more focused on finalizing the divorce because they want to move on with their lives. Spouses that are not living together have a tendency to feel as though the divorce has already taken place.

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