Should I Move Out During The Divorce?

common divorce mistakesBy Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

It is not uncommon for one spouse to leave the marital home during the divorce. The divorce process is trying enough, without having to share a living space with the person you are least likely to want to see.

Most clients usually want to know if moving out of the home qualifies as abandonment.

Although the decision whether to move and the move’s effects on the case depend on the unique facts and circumstances of the case, there are certain themes all cases have in common.

Moving out of the marital home has also been called one of “The 10 Stupidest Mistakes Men Make When Facing Divorce” by Cordell & Cordell co-founder Joseph Cordell.

First, the leaving party is less likely to receive primary physical custody of any child because courts tend to render decisions that maintain the child’s established custodial environment.

An established custodial environment is a physical and a psychological environment where the child naturally looks for care, comfort, guidance and life’s necessities. This is usually the home where the child resided until the separation. Of course, other factors, such as abuse in the home, could change the analysis.

Second, the remaining party is more likely to receive exclusive possession of the home until the court issues its final divorce decree. This means you could leave for a few weeks but end up locked out of your home, figuratively and perhaps literally, for several months.

Third, the leaving party loses considerable control over the property inside the home. For example, you cannot prevent your spouse from taking a baseball bat to your favorite 52″ HDTV in a fit of anger.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located across the country should you seek legal assistance.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Michigan offices of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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4 comments on “Should I Move Out During The Divorce?

    When parties are divorcing it is usually best to physically separate and avoid discomfort of living together. It also helps reduce potential conflict. If a father wants to leave the family residence he should just be sure and negotiate a parenting plan before he leaves the home. Then he already will know when he will have children. If he fears wife will not follow her agreement the parenting plan should be in writing can and be made a court order. It is good idea to also agree on household items he will take when he moves.

    If there are children involved, it is in their best interest that you behave as adults and do the right thing. Divorce is not about vengeance. When you start down this path of ‘standing your ground’ and making someone ‘feel uncomfortable’, you are negatively impacting your children, and destroying any chance of a future relationship with the mother/father of your children. Seek out mediation or collaborative law as those processes respect the needs and rights of both parties and levels the playing field if there is unbalance of power and knowledge.

    Some Guy
    As stated in many websites and books, the initiator should never move out as that gives the other person power over you, power over the house and any items in it. once you move out, they could issue a restraining order and then you have no rights to the house or the contents. If you really want to keep the house and items, then you have to stay and stand your ground, then make her feel uncomfortable to a point that she leaves on her own power.

    Don’t Forget The Photos!
    You make some excellent points.

    I’m thinking, too, that if a spouse decides to leave, he should photograph EVERYTHING he’s leaving behind in the house (including every room and every detail of the house itself), as well as make copies of irreplaceable family photos.

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