Your mind is full of questions. You or your spouse have decided to divorce, and you’re not sure what will happen next. What about the kids? Who will get custody? The divorce isn’t final, but you know it’s going to happen. So you think about the idea of one of you moving out, since it’s been decided you will no longer be together. Plus, you don’t want to argue in front of the children. Most of the time, it’s the men who move out, because they feel it’s “the right thing to do.” But when it comes time for a court to hear and decide custody arrangements, moving out without the children could actually hurt you.
When a court decides on child custody, they are thinking about the best interests of the child or children. They take into account many factors, and one of those is who will make the children a priority and be there to care for them when they need it. If you left the house and your spouse was the one caring for the children, it may appear to the court that you won’t be there for the children. The court also looks at who was the primary caretaker during the marriage. If you leave, it makes your spouse look like the primary caretaker, and that could go against your favor when determining custody.
How would the court view me if I left?
Other negative images it sends to the court, or images your spouse’s attorney could label you with are:
- You do not make your children a priority
- You abandoned your family
- Staying close to your children on a daily basis is not something you care about
What other consequences could it have?
In addition, moving out of the family home early could establish that as the norm, and you not having time with your children every day could be made into temporary child custody arrangements through the court, while the divorce is pending. Those temporary orders could make it into the final divorce decree if the court views this as an arrangement that works “best” for the family.
If you do not get the custody you desired because you moved out of the family home early, you could also end up paying more child support, on top of feeling like you’re not seeing your children enough.
What if my spouse pressures me to leave, or threatens me?
Sometimes, a spouse will ask you to leave, or threaten you by saying you will not get to see your kids after the divorce if you don’t leave. But leaving could interfere with custody arrangements that allow you to be involved in your children’s lives. A threat like that is also not based on fact – no one can deny you your rights to be with your children, as you are their parent and still technically married. A court will likely view you leaving as a voluntary decision you made, even if your spouse pressured or threatened you.
Don’t make an impulsive decision or decision based on a highly emotional time that will hurt you and your time with your children in the long run. If you are experiencing circumstances that make the choice to leave the family home sound like a good option, it’s a wise idea to consult a family law attorney before you act. Although it can be unpleasant to stay in a home with someone you are divorcing, be patient until the court has decided on child custody and your divorce is final. Once you leave, it would likely be tough to return.