When a divorce is filed, either by you or your spouse, it sets up a potentially awkward (at best) situation in your home. You and your spouse know that your marriage is not going to continue and that life as you know it is about to change dramatically. At worst, it can set up a potentially dangerous situation where your well being or that of another family member may be in jeopardy due to threats of violence by your spouse. There is no telling how your spouse will react to being served with divorce papers.
With that said it is important to do what you must to keep yourself safe. Hopefully your situation does not involve threats of violence but in the event that it does safety should be your number one priority. In all other situations, it not probably not advisable for you to move out of your home unless ordered to by a judge or agreed to by you in mediation. The reasons for that are many and will be discussed today in this blog post from the attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC.
Financial and personal reasons exist to remain in the home after a divorce has been filed
While your home is the likely site of many family memories, it is also the largest and most valuable financial asset that is owned by you and your spouse. The emotional and familial attachments to the home only add to the desire to do what is best and to protect your rights to it. Each family situation is different from the next so you will need to read this blog post from that perspective. Apply the general principles laid out in this format and apply them to your family’s divorce.
Safety, safety, safety
I cannot emphasize enough just how important it is for you to consider your safety and that of your children during a divorce. I know that you may be thinking that your spouse has never been violent. He/she sings in the church choir. He/she is a teacher. He/she wouldn’t hurt a fly. You may be right about all those things, but the fact remains that something can happen to a person when a divorce is filed. It does not matter if he/she filed the divorce or if you did. Emotions get stirred up and people stop being able to think rationally in many divorces. If your spouse is exhibiting dangerous and violent behavior towards you and/or your children take the smart approach and leave the home immediately.
You can ask your attorney to file for a protective order in your case to allow for a court ordered removal of your spouse from the home. However, this takes at least a couple days to complete and if you do not have that sort of time to wait then you need to leave first. In fact, you should probably leave your home regardless even if a protective orders hearing is pending. If you remove your children from the home (which I would imagine you would do) you need to then file for a temporary orders hearing as soon as possible so that your spouse and you will have an opportunity to address this issue with a judge.
Situations that involve family violence are some of the more clear cut examples of how and why one spouse needs to leave the marital home. In other situations it is not as easy to analyze what should happen. The remainder of today’s blog post will cover situations like this.
Children will impact the decision making process
Judges will act in your child’s best interests when making any decisions in relation to him or her. What is best for children, in the eyes of most judges, is consistency and stability. When you are making decisions on how to proceed with either remaining in your home or deciding to leave you must think about this factor first. What will a judge likely think about your actions. Are you doing things that will increase the stability and consistency for your children or are you acting in manner that will not further that goal?
For instance, suppose that you decide to leave the home yet you are planning to ask for primary conservatorship with the right to designate the primary residence of the children for the duration of your divorce. You are essentially asking a judge to take your children from the family home and place them in your new residence. This is not an impossible request, but everything else being equal it is a difficult one considering that judges will want to maintain the status quo for your children wherever possible.
Your spouse will likely be ready and eager to argue that by uprooting the children and placing them with you will be a huge disruption to their day to day lives. School, extracurriculars, and friends are all centered around your family home. If you live across town this may be argued as too much change, too quickly.
On the other hand- you can argue that the move was made to reduce conflict and any risk of harm that could have resulted in your remaining in the family home. You were doing what you thought was in the children’s best interests and have shown a desire to have as much time with your kids as possible.
Money, money, money
When you or your spouse move out of your home it may be the situation that the spouse who no longer lives in the home is no longer willing to participate and contribute to the paying of the household bills. Just because a divorce has been filed does not mean that the mortgage, utilities and other bills no longer have to be paid. If you do not have an income you may be forced to remain in the home because you cannot afford to pay additional bills.
On the other hand, if you are the “earner” in the family do not expect that your leaving the family home will put an end to your responsibilities to provide for your family. You are likely going to be expected to pay the bills just as you had before. It does not matter if you move out. Your responsibilities will continue for as long as your case goes on. That does not mean that your spouse will not eventually have to get a job, but for now you are still going to have to bear the responsibility of maintaining the family home- especially if you have children living there.
The solutions that I speak of in this section may not work for you but they are creative nonetheless. If you have relatives or friends who are willing to help you during the divorce (and your spouse does as well) you can each take turns living in the marital home with your children while the divorce goes on. I have never had a client do this, but I have heard of it being done from other attorneys. On some level it makes sense, but you and your spouse would need to work through the logistical problems that it presents to make it work.
A more common scenario involves you and your spouse remaining in the house together during the divorce but basically splitting the place in two, a la “I Love Lucy”. Draw a line down the center and stick to your side. This takes communication and tolerance of your spouse. If those characteristics are not in place then this option may not work.
Questions about divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about your particular divorce circumstances please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in representing the interests of our clients in courtrooms across our state. It is a privilege to work on behalf of Texans just like yourself and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss your case with you.