One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is the uncertainty that comes with beginning your case. Even if you are the spouse who has filed for divorce it is not easy to find yourself in a position where you are being forced to change several of the daily routines that you had previously found yourself doing consistently. From how you get to work, to how much you work, to the time you can spend with your children, and even where you live a divorce is a legal case that requires a great deal of flexibility and adaptation. When we work with families at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan who are going through a divorce, we caution our clients to make decisions that are not only suitable for them right now but make sense for them in the future.
As human beings, the reality is that none of us like to be uncomfortable. Some of us are better at tolerating discomfort than others but none of us would voluntarily ask to do something uncomfortable if we can help it. With that said, some steps may apply to your situation that can help you manage the sort of changes that the divorce will thrust upon you. We hope that the material contained in today’s blog post will allow you to map out your life as best as possible during the divorce and set you up for success in your post-divorce life.
Why may you need temporary housing during your divorce?
There aren’t many legal cases that you could find yourself in which would require you to move from where you are living currently. However, divorce is a rare type of legal matter which may result in you needing to move. Whenever you think about moving there are two things that almost immediately come to mind for anyone contemplating this situation. The first is the amount of expense that goes into the move and the second is the amount of hassle that also goes into the move. Without a doubt, you may be looking at a situation where you have to leave your residence for at least a few months and possibly for good. However, the length of time that she will be leaving your home depends upon the circumstances that you find yourself in.
In most situations, it is not advisable to try and sell a home during a divorce. Certain types of divorces may make it more appealing for you to sell a house. The house may be too expensive, and too time-consuming as far as upkeep and generally, it may be anticipated that you are going to be moving anyway. However, there are so many pieces involved when it comes to moving during a divorce that most experienced family law attorneys would advise against doing so. This is especially true when you consider that your home may be a significant part of your community estate.
Since Texas is a community property state as far as how marital property is divided you need to consider that affecting the composition of your community estate can change the trajectory of your divorce. This is not only true from a perspective related to community property but also community debt. It is easier for your divorce to be consistent in what you are alleging belongs in the community estate versus what belongs in this separate estate. Constantly moving things around makes it difficult for you and your spouse to get a handle on what needs to be divided up in the case. For that reason, you should try to avoid selling your house during a divorce if possible.
However, you may need to move from your family home at some point during the divorce. This may be because of your spouse requesting that you not be able to live in the house any longer in their temporary orders and having that request be granted by a judge. In that case, you would either need to address this issue with a judge in a temporary orders hearing or assent to being removed, and then you working with your attorney to determine what the best course of action for you to take on moving might be.
Moving during the divorce could look like you are planning on how you are going to end up living after the divorce has come to an end. For many people, the idea of moving out of your family home during the divorce does not sound all that appealing. Many people work through the challenges of a divorce by negotiation. This may result in your case taking a bit longer to complete but the fruits of this can be seen in how your community estate looks at the end of the divorce. You can talk with your spouse about how you all see this issue being explored and whether there is a mutually agreeable solution for the two of you to reach in terms of how you may need to leave the home.
It is not a given that the two of you are going to need to live separately during the divorce. Depending upon if you have children or the other circumstances in your case you and your spouse may be able to live together during the case and be just fine. If you have no children, are not divorcing due to any issue regarding abuse, and have generally found it possible for the two of you to work through your problems with negotiation then you may be able to stay in the same house and avoid having to find temporary housing during the divorce.
Of course, this is something best discussed with your spouse once the divorce has started. The two of you can work together to determine whether there is any chance that you all can remain living in the same house over the extended period of your divorce. You may find that if you can talk through these issues together, establish some ground rules, and are confident that your spouse will be respectful towards you and your living arrangements for the duration of your divorce you can safely remain in the same house with him or her. However, if you have any doubts about their ability to remain living together with you then you can always decide about moving out in the future.
Keeping an eye on your budget during the divorce is going to be crucial. Many if not most people during a divorce case will let their budget out of control or be completely ignored. There are many logistical reasons why this may be the case. For instance, the costs associated with their case can increase as the case proceeds. There are attorney’s fees, court costs, mediation expenses, and the list goes on and on. While your divorce is ongoing it’s not as if the other costs associated with your case will simply come to an end. Rather, all the other expenses in your life will be maintained even though your divorce has started. This can add a substantial amount of cost to your life in a way that you may not have anticipated.
How do some people meet this obligation when it comes to considering the increased costs of life during a divorce? For one, you may be looking at a situation where you must find a second job during the divorce. However, you want to be careful when you start to work a second job during your divorce case. The reason for this is that sometimes your income may be scrutinized during a divorce as far as how special maintenance, child support, and a host of other components of a divorce are calculated. What many people do not realize is that even if your income goes up temporarily, your spouse and their attorney can make an argument that you are simply earning an amount of money that is reasonable based on your employment history, job prospects, education, and training. So, be careful about finding a second job during a divorce especially if you have not talked with your spouse about this decision yet.
If you have not started living on a budget already then now would be a perfect time to start. A budget does not restrict you’re spending so much as it permits you to spend. By this, I mean that when you are actively budgeting each month you know the amount of money coming into your household as well as the expenses that you run into. From there, you can perform a close analysis of how much money you have that can be spent on essentials, how much can be spent on temporary costs like divorce, and how much if any can be saved.
What type of temporary housing is best for you?
Deciding about how to spend money during a divorce is a critical period being on a budget is also important because that shows how much disposable income each month you have, if any. Once you have determined what sort of money you must spend on rent you will be able to see how much of a payment you can afford. Renting a home or an apartment during a divorce is like renting a home or an apartment at any other time in your life. You will want to rent the least expensive place possible that can suit you and your needs for the duration of your case. For different people, this can look like different things.
If you are a parent who expects to have minor children over to your home with any frequency, then you will need a place that has an appropriate number of bedrooms. This does not mean that each child must have a bedroom or even must live and the same type of accommodations that he or she has in your family home. However, having space for beds and a living area for the children is important. For those of you with big families, it may mean that you are not able to rent an apartment and would need to rent a home. This can get quite expensive, and you are looking at a circumstance where finding a place on a budget is important.
Remember that your divorce is a trial period for determining how well you and your spouse can co-parent together after your divorce has come to an end. Finding a place that is close enough to your spouse to minimize travel time is what works well for many families. Remember that there will be frequent back and forth between your homes for pick up and drop off regarding school and even extracurricular activities. The more time your kids have to be in a vehicle the greater the likelihood that problems will occur as far as frustrations over travel, time lost in the car, and people leaving belongings behind at each other’s homes.
If you plan to include a geographic restriction in your final divorce orders, then it would make sense to start looking for a place to live that is within that restricted area. A geographic restriction says that your children need to live within a certain, predefined, geographic area. That area could be a school district, county, or group of counties. You can use the divorce as a trial run to determine how well the geographic restriction will work and what kind of logistics need to be considered when it comes to that geographic area. Hopefully, you can iron out any problems that you run into when it comes to living arrangements during the divorce so that you can hit the ground running once your divorce comes to an end.
Minimizing costs of temporary housing during a divorce
In truth, if you do not have children or many things that need to be taken from your home then you should try to live as cheaply as possible during the divorce, within reason. For example, if you have a support system in place you can always check with someone to see if they have a spare room for you to live in during the divorce. This can save you a great deal of money and put you under less financial hardship as a result.
To assist those people who are helping to accommodate you during the divorce you can work with them to establish some ground rules as far as you are living with him or her. Being upfront about your expectations as far as how long you are going to be in the home is important. People are usually much more willing to help you find a temporary place to live if you are upfront with them about your expectations and your plan for leaving. Asking a friend for you to open a spare bedroom in their house to you sounds much more appealing when you tell him or her that you plan to stay in the room for four months rather than leaving it open-ended.
When you are negotiating on leaving the family home for the first time you should make sure that you have permission to enter the home in the future if you ever need to come back and retrieve anything. Even though the house may be in your name, and you may be making mortgage payments on it, that does not mean you can choose to enter the home whatever you see fit. Rather, you should negotiate for the ability to return to the home to retrieve certain items and should discuss how that retrieval process will go. Do not assume that you and your spouse are on the same page regarding this subject. If you do that you may find that you will never have the chance to go back home and retrieve the items you left.
Deciding to leave the family home during a divorce is also important from the perspective of how conservatorship rights and duties will be divided between you and your spouse concerning your children. Many parents, usually fathers, will decide it is in everyone’s best interest for them to leave the home during a divorce. That may be a reasonable instinct to have but by leaving your children with your spouse you may be effectively giving up any consideration that a judge may be making towards naming you as primary conservator.
Instead, if you would like to remain in the running to be the children’s primary conservator you should try to stay in the family home for as long as you can. The more quickly you leave the home some judges are likely to determine that you willingly left your children and did not take seriously your responsibilities at child rearing. Having an experienced family law attorney by your side can be the key to protecting yourself no matter what decisions you make in a divorce.
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