You have had it. Your marriage is no longer working. There is nothing left to do but to move out of the house. It is for the best, right? Well, maybe not.
A difficult thing about being a family law attorney is that we are constantly asked to contrast the emotional needs of our clients facing difficult situations with the legal implications of their actions. This is a great example. While there might be compelling emotional arguments for you leaving, you could stand to lose a lot by the immediate satisfaction of packing a bag and slamming the door.
From a pure property standpoint, there is certainly nothing to support the proposition that you have vacated the house and it automatically belongs to the other side, free and clear. However, you could do yourself some damage if you want to argue to the Court later that you should be the party that is awarded the exclusive use and access to the home, on temporary orders, or awarded the property, at final orders.
If you have children, moving out could prove even more problematic. While certainly not a dispositive factor, a Judge will typically order that the children stay in the house and that the primary parent is given exclusive use and access to the house. A Judge is typically looking, especially at temporary orders, to do whatever would be the least impactful on the children. By moving out prematurely, you could be providing ammunition to the other side that the “status quo” would be better maintained by awarding them the house as well as primary parentage.
However, if you are in a situation where staying in the house would lead you to fear for your or your children’s physical well-being, it is always my advice to make sure you and your children are protected. If that means leaving the house, then do it. If that means calling the police, do it.
If you are getting to this point, or even if you have already moved out, it is imperative that you contact an experienced family law attorney immediately to ensure that your rights and those of your children are being protected. To speak with one, contact us here.