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How Can Moving Out During a Divorce Negatively Affect You?

For most pending divorces, a change in living arrangements is one of the first decisions that a spouse makes. Spouses who are going through a divorce commonly look to begin living separately long before the divorce has been finalized. Moving out of the marital home during a divorce is a natural desire for many people, but it is important to be aware of how moving out could potentially impact the divorce. Those who are concerned about the potential implications of moving out when going through a divorce can learn more by contacting the experienced divorce attorneys of the Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442.

Does Moving Out Affect Your Claim to the Property?

Individuals who are going through divorce often worry that moving out could potentially jeopardize their claim to the family home. As dictated in Title 14 of the Colorado Revised Statutes, Colorado is an equitable distribution state. This means that in a divorce, all marital assets are subject to a division that the court deems fair. The family home is part of the marital assets and will be subject to this process, regardless of whether one spouse has moved out. However, a marital home cannot be literally split in half, and as a result a judge will have to make a decision regarding which spouse actually is allowed to keep the marital home. If one spouse moves out of the marital home, it may signal to the court that the spouse remaining in the home has more of an interest to stay in the marital home following the divorce.

Divorce court judges consider several factors when deciding how to equitably divide marital property, including the family home and other real estate properties:

  • The current financial status of each spouse
  • The overall value of the property
  • How each spouse contributed to acquiring the marital home, including homemaker contributions
  • Whether the value of each spouse’s separate property has changed and whether a decrease in value was related to marital factors
  • The other marital or separate property each party may retain subsequent to the divorce
  • Other relevant economic circumstances

In addition to the home itself, spouses should be mindful of what objects they bring with them if they do move out. Home furnishings may need to be divided upon one spouse’s departure from the home, or may need to be left on the property unless the spouses have a written agreement that addresses this type of property. However, personal items such as jewelry and clothing may be taken when moving out. If you are concerned about your legal right to the marital home, and the property contained therein, consider visiting with an experienced family law attorney at Colorado Divorce Law Group to learn more.

Possible Financial Implications of Moving Out During Divorce

When one spouse moves out during the divorce process, this creates two households instead of one. Establishing a second household can be a major financial burden for the spouse that has moved out, especially if the other spouse is the family’s main income earner. It is important to note that even if the spouse has moved out, they will still be legally responsible for the mortgage and household bills if their name is on these documents. Many strategic decisions that can critically impact your case should be considered at this juncture. If you have questions about the financial implications of moving out during divorce, you can learn more by speaking with the family attorneys of the Colorado Divorce Law Group.

Colorado divorce courts account for these financial considerations during the divorce process. In many situations, the court will require the higher-earning spouse to pay temporary maintenance (also known as alimony or spousal support) to the spouse with less income. If the lesser-earning spouse is the one moving out, these payments can help them establish a secondary household after leaving the marital home. However, if the higher-earning spouse is moving out, these payments could create financial difficulties as they attempt to find equivalent housing. The spouse who remains in the house may also be asked to relinquish the legal right to certain marital funds or property in the final property division to compensate for the benefit of staying in the house.

Considerations For Divorces Involving Children

Divorcing couples who have children must account for additional considerations when considering whether or not to move out of the family home.

Child Custody

In Colorado, family court judges seek living arrangements that maintain a stable living environment for the children, or that cater to the best interests of the child, as outlined in C.R.S. §14-10-124. If one parent decides to move out during the divorce, this could potentially impact which parent is awarded primary custody. If the children remain in the family home with the parent who has stayed there during the divorce process, that parent may have an advantage in child custody disputes. The parent who has remained in the home and their lawyers may argue that the other parent created a destabilized environment for the children by moving out. This does not necessarily mean that parents should force themselves to stay in the family home during a divorce.

A parent who wants to move out can avoid these possible consequences by establishing a written agreement with the other spouse, which states that the parent who is leaving the home is not giving up any legal rights and that both parents agree to the new living arrangements. If the spouses disagree about how to divide child custody after one moves out, they should consider petitioning the court to designate a shared co-parenting schedule and have orders established early on, and prior to (or simultaneous with) making a determination about living arrangements It is also important to note that if a spouse ever feels that their life, or the lives of their children, are in danger in the martial home, they should seek safety immediately.

Avoiding Accusations of Child Abandonment

In the divorce context, Colorado is a no-fault divorce state and does not have a specific law regarding abandonment. However, one spouse could use the fact that the other spouse left as an argument against them in child custody disputes, especially if they make little effort to continue to be involved with the children As such, spouses who do move out should be mindful to continue providing adequate care and attention to their children afterward, as failing to do so could potentially hurt them during child custody disputes.

For example, the act of leaving alone is unlikely to negatively impact the spouse but failing to continue providing financial support for the children after leaving the home could have detrimental effects during child custody disputes. In addition to financial support, spouses who move out should continue spending time with their children and remain involved in their daily lives. Maintaining parenting responsibilities after moving out will make it much easier to receive a fair custody arrangement during divorce proceedings and more importantly, will help to maintain your relationship with your children

Discuss Your Options with Our Experienced Colorado Divorce Lawyers

If you are considering moving out during a divorce in Colorado, remember that it is your right to do so. Parents should make sure to have agreements in place regarding parenting time and financial obligations prior to moving out of the marital home. In addition, remember to be mindful of what you bring with you when moving out and do not take any marital property. If you have more questions about moving out or other aspects of the divorce process, the team of dedicated divorce attorneys at the Colorado Divorce Law Group is here to help: call us at (720) 593-6442. for legal guidance during your Colorado divorce.