When your spouse tells you they want to divorce, it can feel like a betrayal. Sometimes, you don’t even see it coming. Other times, you may have known your relationship wasn’t doing well, but you probably assumed you would work it out in the future.

Regardless of what the circumstances are and whether or not you expected a potential divorce, finding out it’s really going to happen is very different from suspecting it might. Many people have strong emotional responses to receiving divorce paperwork. It is a common reaction to act out of anger or sorrow, but those actions stemming from emotion often won’t serve you in the long run.

Although you may feel like you need space, if you just move out of the family home and leave the kids with your ex, that could cause many issues for you as the divorce proceedings move forward. Avoid making one of the most common custody mistakes in your divorce by reinforcing your role in the family before you move out.

Don’t do anything that looks like abandoning your family

Even if you know a divorce is imminent, that doesn’t give you the right to stop supporting your children emotionally and financially. It also does not waive you of your obligations to the shared household, including the mortgage and other expenses. While you may feel like your own space is the fastest way to a fresh start, you will still have financial obligations at the marital home. You need to factor that into your considerations when looking at living spaces.

Also, make sure that you have a verbal agreement or, ideally, a written agreement via email or text outlining a fully shared custody scenario. Leaving without arranging to see your kids could impact you in the future.

Your ex could use that to claim you are negligent and won’t parent well. It could also impact the way the children speak about you with court professionals. You should ensure you have time and space for the kids and that you set terms to see them before you leave the family home.

Leaving the house may mean you won’t get it in the divorce

When the courts determine how to handle your house in a divorce, they look at a number of important considerations. How much equity you have in the property is going to be very significant. They also want to know whether either of you can afford the property on your own.

Finally, they will look at the custody arrangements for your children and who is currently staying in the home. In other words, if your ex and the kids are staying in the family house and you are staying at a rented condo, your ex may have a better chance of getting more parenting time with your kids and retaining possession of the home, although you will likely still receive a portion of the equity.