There are so many things to think about when there's a chance you might file for divorce. How will property be divided, custody be decided, is alimony an issue and on. One set of questions that sometimes comes up is "Will I have to stay in the marital home with my soon to be ex-spouse until the divorce is finalized or can I move out?". The answer to this question really depends on the circumstances of the case. Each case is different and this blog is intended to only address some of the factors involved, if you have specific questions regarding your own situation, the best thing to do is to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable family law attorney, so please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation either through our online form or by contacting us at (248) 608-4123.
Do I Have to Stay in the Marital Home with My Spouse While the Divorce is Pending?
Many people worry that moving out will somehow be considered "abandonment" of their property interest in the home, however, that is not true, abandonment is not really applicable in divorce proceedings these days because Michigan has adopted "no-fault" divorce. The real concerns revolve around how this will work financially and with regards to any children from the marriage. If safety is a concern, then that should be the first priority and this blog is really not intended to address that situation.
In most cases it is less expensive for two people to share bills at one residence, so if you move out, there will almost always be additional financial strains on the marriage. This means that if you do move out, someone will have to pay for the costs of the new residence as well as the marital residence which means that if you move out, you may be ordered to continue to pay half of all the marital bills associated with the marital residence as well as the entire costs of the new residence. An exception might be where the parties have a second home that is not being rented out that one of the spouses can move into without increasing the typical monthly expenses.
In addition, in most cases, when you file for divorce in Michigan, the court will issue what is known as a "Financial Status Quo Order" which requires the parties to pay the bills while the divorce is pending in the same way they did during the marriage. This means that if both parties deposited their checks into one joint account and paid all the bills from the same account, then both parties will still have to deposit their checks and pay all of the bills from that account. Further, as part of the ultimate resolution of the financial aspects of the divorce, if you are the party that moved out and there was no agreement from the other spouse, then you might have to reimburse the other spouse for at least one-half of all the expenses you incurred by moving out of the marital home.
If you have minor children together, this creates additional potential problems because at least temporary custody, parenting time and potential child support will have to be determined. It should be noted that the temporary custody and parenting time orders will stay in place until the final orders regarding custody, parenting time and support are resolved. Given that divorce cases can take over a year, an unfavorable temporary custody/parenting time order may have a profound impact on your relationship with children as well as impact the final orders for parenting time. For example, if you are seeking equal parenting time, it could have a very negative impact to have a temporary parenting time order that grants anything less than that, particularly if the case drags on as they sometimes do.
Should I Talk to my Soon-To-Be-Ex About it First?
Yes, this is an issue that you should definitely breach with your spouse either in person or through your attorney, before you move out. Absent a threat of harm to you or the children, if you are not able to work out these arrangements through counsel, then in most cases you should strongly consider staying in the marital home until the divorce case is final. If you have questions regarding family law or divorce, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation by contacting us at (248) 608-4123 or by filling out our online consultation form.