The decision to leave the marital home once you decide to divorce should not be taken lightly.
Leaving the marital home can have significant legal consequences. Therefore, to protect your legal rights, below are 6 essential actions to take before moving out.
1. Document the marital income
Before moving out of the marital home, it’s important to document the sources of household income earned by both you and your spouse.
Knowing the current income of each spouse is essential for the divorce including for child support and alimony.
Since it’s generally easier to access the documents and income sources while still in the home, this should be done right away.
If you’re a salaried employee, this includes pay stubs and tax returns.
If you’re self-employed, this also includes documents such as bank account and credit card statements, business records, and loan applications.
Once you move out, it might not be as easy to gain access to these documents. It can also be extremely costly for lawyers to obtain.
2. Create a monthly budget for current household expenses.
Once you’ve assessed and documented the marital income, determine the current marital finances by creating a budget.
The budget should detail the current income and household expenses. Likewise, the budget should be documented by gathering bills, financial statements, and other documents showing the current household expenses.
You will need this budget to complete your Case Information Statement, which is a financial statement required to be filed with the Court.
3. Make a list of marital assets and debts.
When dividing marital assets and debts, it will be essential to have an accurate list that includes current values and balances.
Accessing the source documents for the marital assets and debts is generally easier while still in the home, and generally less costly if done by lawyers after you move out.
Here is a checklist of significant divorce documents to gather before moving out.
4. Prepare a custody and parenting time plan.
It’s extremely important to have a written child custody and parenting time agreement in place before moving out of the home.
If you anticipate being the non-custodial parent, moving out could create a new status quo where you could potentially end up with less parenting time with your children.
As much as moving out affects you and your spouse, there is an even greater effect on the children.
Chances are your children can feel the tension between you and your spouse. As a result, they can experience ongoing anxiety from not knowing what will happen. Having an agreed-upon written custody and parenting time agreement can go a long way to putting your children’s minds at ease.
5. Identify what you will take with you.
Decide which items in the home you will take with you. Make sure to get agreement you’re your spouse in writing to avoid costly legal disputes.
Legally, you are generally expected to maintain your current contribution to the household and living expenses even once you move out.
This is not the time to increase your standard of living. Therefore, you should not make major purchases on expensive furniture, vacations, or vehicles. You should spend only what is necessary.
6. Assemble the team.
You will need trusted advisors to help you make the best financial decisions possible in the divorce.
You should first consult with a lawyer who focuses on divorce and family law. An attorney can help create a strategy and recommend any additional professional advisors who would be helpful in the divorce.
Moving out of the marital home is a very important decision with potential legal consequences. Therefore, this decision should not be taken lightly or without preparation.