There are many difficult decisions that must be made during a divorce. One of these involves who will stay in the family home while your case is being resolved. This issue can often be contentious since your home is much more than a financial asset – it’s also an important source of your emotional stability.
In general, it’s usually best for one spouse to move out of the house while the divorce is pending. This is particularly true when young children are involved. It’s common for relationships to be tense and for conflict to arise while marriages are unravelling. This dynamic can create a toxic environment that isn’t healthy for the divorcing couple or for young children. Unless you and your spouse are truly unable to afford separate living situations during the divorce process, it’s usually best for one person to move out.
However, there are some important factors that should be considered when deciding who gets to keep living in the family home while the divorce is being settled. The family law attorneys at Syprett Meshad have extensive experience handling divorce cases, and we can help guide you through the challenging process of determining who stays in the home.
One of the most important factors to consider is the safety of you and your children. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 10 million people are victims of domestic violence each year. This figure doesn’t include all the cases of abuse which go unreported each year.
If you or your children are the victim of domestic violence, it’s crucial that you get out of the abusive situation as soon as possible. When abuse is involved, staying in the house is less important than making sure you’re safe and free of a violent home life.
Before deciding to move out, you should consult an attorney. At Syprett Meshad, we can help you with important matters such as:
- Filing a protective order against your abusive spouse
- Obtaining a court order for temporary custody so that you’re not accused of kidnapping when you choose to remove your children from an abusive home environment
Child Custody Considerations
In general, the court evaluates what is in the best interest of the child when resolving custody disputes. Often, the stability of staying in their family home will help children adjust to life after divorce. However, this doesn’t mean that you will lose your right to custody if you choose to move out. It is common for parenting time to be split equally in the state of Florida.
You can help reduce the contentiousness of custody decisions by creating a written parenting agreement before one spouse moves out of the house. This agreement can be used to establish a framework for the ultimate parenting plan that is adopted as part of your final divorce decree. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on a parenting agreement, you can request that the court establish a temporary parenting plan while the divorce is pending. This can help ensure that shared parenting becomes the established model for your family.
If you feel strongly that it is best for your children to always remain in the family home, you may want to consider a creative agreement such as bird-nesting while your divorce is being finalized. In a bird-nesting arrangement, you and your spouse will alternate weeks living in the house so that your children can maintain the stability associated with remaining in the same house full-time.
It’s common for divorce to create financial hardships since the income that previously supported one household must now support two separate homes. This can create significant challenges for many divorcing couples.
Even if you can agree on all issues involved and go through an uncontested divorce, it will still take at least 3-4 months to complete the process. If you and your spouse disagree on many of the core issues and need to resolve your divorce in court, the process can take a year or longer. Therefore, finances will be an important consideration when deciding who stays in the home.
Generally, the spouse with the higher income will be expected to continue paying the majority of household expenses, even after moving out. This may include a significant portion of the mortgage and insurance. In many instances, the spouse moving out may have limited financial resources to secure a new home, resulting in a less desirable living situation moving forward.
Florida approaches property division disputes based on the principle of equitable distribution, which states that all property and assets will be split in a fair, but not necessarily equal manner. Often, the spouse who moves out will receive assets of comparable value to the home as part of the divorce settlement. Factors which impact equitable distribution of property may include:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring and maintaining the home (this includes ongoing contributions as a homemaker)
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Each spouse’s earning capacity
If it isn’t financially feasible for one spouse to keep the house after the divorce, you may have to sell your home and divide the money as part of your property division agreement. In this situation, whoever remains in the home while you are separated will only do so temporarily until the house can be sold.
It’s also important to remember that all of the personal property in the home will be divided during the divorce. This may include:
- Electronics equipment
- Other assets
If you choose to move out, it’s important to document these items so that they are all included in the final divorce agreement. We recommend writing down an itemized list of all valuable assets in the home and taking photos of these items before you move out.
Syprett Meshad Can Help
Determining who stays in the family home during the divorce process can be complicated. There are many important factors to consider before making this decision, and it’s best to consult an attorney before either spouse agrees to move out.
The attorneys at Syprett Meshad have been handling divorce cases for individuals in the Sarasota area for 50 years. We understand the complex laws governing these cases, and we can guide you through this process to ensure your rights are protected while you’re making important decisions regarding who will keep the family home.
Contact our Sarasota Divorce Attorneys
If you’re contemplating filing for divorce, make sure you learn about your rights and options before making any important decisions. Please contact Syprett Meshad using the form on this page or call 941-365-7171 today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Sarasota, Bradenton and the surrounding areas of Florida.