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Moving On And Moving Out

Moving in with someone?

The road to divorce can be long and full of lonely times, but moving in with someone following a separation is never a good idea. Why? You might not like this answer, but impressions matter, particularly when you’re in the process of getting a divorce. Even if you and your “roommate” keep things strictly platonic, it still creates the impression that there could have been a relationship prior to the marriage coming to a halt (this is even more likely if you move in directly after you and your spouse separated). If your roomie is not a potential/current romantic interest, make sure you and your children know them well and are familiar with their background. If you’ve chosen to date during the divorce process, leave cohabitation until after your divorce is finalized unless you want to put the kibosh on alimony. 

What about moving out alone?

There are many things to consider before you make like a baby and head out. If possible, speak to an attorney before you move to ensure that all of your legal interests are protected. If you or your children are in immediate danger, move out as soon as possible. In addition, create a plan and stick to it. If you are leaving the marital home, it’s a good idea to take inventory of what marital property is left in the house. Once you’re gone, your ex could very well sell it, throw it in a wood chipper, use it to fashion a voodoo doll, set fire to it and dance on the ashes…you get the idea. It’s okay to take personal items like clothing and toiletries, but don’t take off with the washer and dryer, living room furniture, master bedroom suite, the Keurig, Vitamix blender, or plants that you dug up from the backyard in the dead of night. DO get your original identification documents like birth certificate, SS card, passport, etc. Assume that once you leave you won’t be back for a while, so important documents are a must. 

When you decide to bounce, please don’t act a fool. Don’t attempt to establish dominance by leaving dog excrement in the house, knocking holes into the walls or doors, pushing over motorcycles, or drawing pentagrams on the mirrors with your “power red” lipstick. If you each have a car, don’t take both and leave your spouse without transportation. Don’t take all the dishes and pots and pans so your spouse has nothing to eat on or cook with. BE BETTER. If you are petty when you move out, you can count on your spouse being petty later. 

Am I losing anything by moving out? 

One common misconception is that when you move out you give up the marital home, but this is only half right. When you move out of the marital home with the intent to not resume the marriage (standard required for separation), you give up possession of the marital home, but not your legal/monetary interest in the home. That being said, don’t be surprised when your salty ex changes the locks and prevents you from entering. You may still be a part legal owner of the home, but you can still be charged with trespassing if you come onto the property without permission. This means that if you’ve left any personal items in the home, you can’t just go in and grab them after you’ve moved out—you would need permission. If contentious, you might also need law enforcement to accompany you. Another thing that’s often discussed after a spouse moves out is the issue of “abandonment.” Simply leaving the marital home is not generally sufficient to prove abandonment. If you have questions about whether what you are doing might be considered abandonment, set up an appointment for a consultation. 

Important things to consider

Ready to blow this popsicle stand? The best thing you can do, as we just mentioned, is to consult an attorney before you make any big moves. In North Carolina, the one year period of separation does not start until one party moves out of the residence with the intent to not resume the marriage. Therefore you are NOT separated if you live in one room and your spouse lives in another. Have a safe plan for yourself and for your children. If you want or need to move in with someone, pick a family member (parents, for example) or long-term friends of the family in lieu of a love interest or someone you found on a “roommate wanted” ad. In other words, be safe, smart, and informed. 

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