A big part of a divorce is the potential for you, your spouse, or both of you to relocate once the case is over with. These changes come about as the need to start fresh, pay down debt, find a more affordable home for your lifestyle, or some combination of all of these factors comes into play. These changes are brought about by changes in your lifestyle and the need to accommodate yourselves towards the betterment of your children. In some circumstances, you all may be able to remain close to where you were living before the divorce. However, we're going to discuss in today's blog why parental relocation may occur in your case and how it may impact your life after that.
The most basic example of why parental relocation may occur after your divorce is when you all own a home that neither parent can afford to retain after the divorce. This can be the result of several factors. I think the most common factor that would require both you and your spouse to move from the house would be that neither of you can afford to make a mortgage payment on your own once the divorce is complete. While many parents will attempt to remain in a house after a divorce, you need to take a severe look at your finances to determine if this is a reasonable step for you to take.
The parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of your children will often want to stay in the family home to help the children transition into a post-divorce world. This is a Noble thought, and I can ultimately see why you may be motivated to do so. Considering all the changes that are going on in your child's life, it would be a nice pick me up for your child to be able to sleep in their bed on most nights and not to be concerned with having to move to a new school, develop new friends or go through the hassle of picking up and driving altogether. While this may be a noble goal, it probably isn't the most brilliant goal in the world unless your circumstances allow for it.
One thing that I see happening in divorce cases is that a parent will assume that things will work out just right for them to remain in the family house. In this case, I can think of everything working out just right as including getting a new job that pays you more money immediately after the divorce, having child support come in on time and in full each month, or having spousal support or maintenance be paid in the amount that you desire. While all of these outcomes can play into your circumstances, only one or none may occur for you consistently.
The reality of your situation is that unless you can comfortably afford the mortgage on the house and the insurance, maintenance costs, taxes, and other costs inherent in living in a single-family home, then the wisest decision for you may be to sell the house. You can then retain your portion of the equity in the home and use that money for other goals in the case. You may need to pay your attorney, begin to pay down debts, prepare to pay school tuition for your kids, or use the money to go back to school in order so that you might get the job that you were seeking in your post-divorce world.
The best way to determine whether or not you need to get out from underneath your family house is to run a very detailed budget based on your income alone and consider all of the overhead costs that I just finished mentioning. Bear in mind that it is possible that at the end of your divorce, once the dust settles on your case, that something could happen in the house that requires you to spend a great deal of money. Think about all the inopportune times that a repair has come up in your home. What if a dishwasher, dryer, washer, air conditioning unit, or leaky roof suddenly spring up the week after your divorce completes itself? Would you have the cash to pay for those repairs, or would you rely on a credit card to pay those bills?
If you do not have the money in reserve and pay for expenses and do not have the income to justify remaining in the house, then there is nothing wrong with selling the home in the divorce and making moves after the divorce has ended. Yes, having to plan to sell a house with an ex-spouse is not the most desirable thing in the world, but I can tell you that it is much hotter than you try to remain in a house that you cannot afford. All disabilities you seek regard children as a result of staying in the house will be going up in smoke if you have to leave the house quickly once you realize that you cannot afford to remain in it after the divorce concludes.
Selling the house in the divorce is not unprecedented or rare. On the contrary, many people who go through divorce sell the family house due to their case. This means that you can lean on your attorney to help guide you through the process at least help you set up the language in your final decree of divorce accomplished. Bear in mind that it is up to you and your ex-spouse to work together once your divorce is done to make sure that the sale of the house goes off without a hitch. This requires some degree of cooperation with one another and the inability to communicate directly with one another of the final details of the home sale.
If any of you have ever sold a home before, you realize just how detailed the process can be in what little things can come up at various points in the process. Consider how you will have to be able to decide upon a realtor to show the house, timing to get all of your personal belongings out of the house, a location for the closing of the house, and coordination on getting everyone's signatures on the appropriate documents so that the sale of the home goes through whenever a buyer is presented. Yes, it is somewhat of a hassle to sell a house with your ex-spouse but bear in mind that it is always a hassle to sell a house. However, it sure beats having to remain in a home that you cannot afford for no other reason than you did not want to go through the process of selling the home.
Another point that I would like to make to you regarding selling a home in a divorce is that we are fortunate to live in a Metropolitan area where there are many houses available on a year-round basis. Consider some of our northern neighbors to live in states where not only are there not as many houses available for purchase regularly but there are seasons of the year where people do not buy houses due to inclement weather. The summers may get hot in Houston, but we are more than capable of getting in our air-conditioned vehicles in driving around town to look for a new house. This should give you some hope that there will be one available when it is a better time for you to purchase the house. The beautiful home you found two streets down from yours may not be available in three or four years when you are ready to buy, but there will undoubtedly be a very similar house open for you when the time is better.
What impact on your post-divorce life could relocation have?
Let's approach this topic from your perspective as a parent having to move out of the family house into a new location. This may be a somewhat shocking event for you, given that you have likely lived in your family home for some time. Not only do you have to wake up in a new home, but you have to do so without your spouse and your children. No matter the nature of your divorce, this can be a complicated process to go through, and it is not uncommon to experience some degree of transition. At the same time, you attempt to build a life separate from your spouse, not living with your children all the time.
Depending upon how far you move from your children will likely determine how often you can spend time with them. Most parents that our office represents in divorce or child custody cases will attempt to move a relatively short distance from their children. Again, despite how big the city of Houston is, most people can find suitable living for themselves are a relatively short distance from their children. This makes coordination of drop-off and pickup activities for visitation periods much more accessible.
One of the more challenging parts of divorce cases or child custody modification cases is when a parent moves from one end of town to the other. The parents then have to decide upon a middle point in the city to coordinate drop off and pick up. I can remember a case where the mother had a stable job between Houston and Galveston, where the family had lived for many years. However, the father of these children planned on moving to The Woodlands for his new job and would be purchasing a house in that area. While there is nothing wrong with living in either location or problem for this family, they ended up leaving about 60 miles from one another.
If your driving is done at 4:00 in the morning, this shouldn't be much of an issue. You can drive through on Houston's freeways and highways and get it the other house in about an hour. However, consider having to go down I-45 during rush hour to pick up your children from school or your ex-wife's house for a weekend Visitation. That same one-hour trip may end up taking two hours due to traffic. This is not a sustainable plan and would affect how often the children's father would only see his kids during the week. Even coordinating a place to pick up the children halfway between the two homes would not necessarily work out, as a 30-mile trip to drive in afternoon traffic can still be hellacious.
Ultimately, what ended up happening was the children's father decided to take a similar job in the area where his children lived. That way, he was able to attend sporting events, make pickup and drop-off easier on all parties, and be in a position to modify his court order in future years to ask for more time with the kids. Consider where you live after your divorce in its long-term impacts on your case. If your ultimate goal is to win more time with your children, then selecting a home after your divorce that is close to where the children live can be the best bet you make.
Questions about the material continued today's blog post? Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law and the services that our law office provides to our clients.