So you are thinking about separating. Maybe things are so bad between you and your soon to be ex that you just can’t take it anymore and are moving out. Before you make that choice you should fully understand that if you leave the home, and the children behind, you are establishing a new status quo which might not be to your benefit in the event you file for divorce. If parties are separated, a judge will look at what the parties have been doing while separated and ask if it is working. The status quo sets a precedent and judges like to maintain a status quo that is working, it doesn’t matter necessarily that you don’t like it. There are two major issues which people should consider before they separate and move out of the family home.
Possession of the Home in a Divorce
If you move out of the marital home upon separation, it may later impair your chances of being awarded possession of the marital home at a later time during the divorce. Let’s say your spouse is driving you nuts and refuses to leave the home, so you decide to go find your own apartment and move out believing you will just later fight to get back in the home after you file for divorce. This is not a good game plan because the judge might just look at the situation and say, “well why would I award you possession of the marital home when you have already moved out and established a separate residence?” When a new status quo has been set up, judges are often hesitant to change things.
Custody of the Children
The same principle applies to seeking custody of the children. If you move out and the children stay primarily in the marital home with your spouse, the judge may not be willing to give you sole custody or joint custody if the children are adjusted to the new arrangement and doing well. Stability for the kids is important and the courts give stability a lot of weight in determining what custody arrangement is going to be in the children’s best interests. If there is no issue of abuse, no chance there will be future abuse, and there is no other overwhelming reason why you can’t stay in the home with the children, you probably shouldn’t move out if you are concerned about your custody rights or rights to maintain possession of your home.
What if there is abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse changes everything I just stated about the status quo. If there is physical abuse then you need to take any and all measures to protect yourself and your children and there is no need to worry about the status quo. You need to move out immediately or even better, file for a protective order in Utah and have your spouse removed from the home. If you are a victim of abuse you need to report it to the police, file for a protective order, and take any other measure to protect yourself and the kids. We can help with all of this so please do not hesitate to contact our office right away and speak directly with one of our Utah divorce lawyer. You can also get help through Utah Legal Aid if you are unemployed and meet certain financial limitations.