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"Divorcing" the marital home: Is it the right thing to do?

Divorce leads to not only a breakdown of the marital relationship but also to a division of assets. One of the biggest contentions in any Minnesota divorce is often the question of who keeps the marital house. Often, it is the man who leaves the marital home; however, that might not be in the best financial interest of the estranged husband.

Even if the divorce is not the man's idea, leaving may put the estranged husband in jeopardy, as leaving the home voluntarily can be interpreted as abandonment of the family. It must be kept in mind that no one is obligated to leave the home if their names are enlisted in the lease or mortgage deal of the house. In some cases, a court ordered removal might be better than a voluntary exit, even if the man feels leaving the home is the right thing to do.

A major argument against voluntary exits is made in cases involving children. In some cases, the courts may interpret such voluntary exit as the husband not prioritizing his relationship with the children. Upon moving out voluntarily, a new normal is created for the family, and the court may feel this situation should be made permanent. Child custody may be adversely affected in such cases, resulting in fewer child visitation rights and higher child support.

Couples who do not have children are not spared the downsides of abandoning the marital home during divorce either. If the spouse who voluntarily exits the marital home is also the higher earner or the sole "breadwinner," alimony or spousal support can be affected. Some states tend to impose the "status quo" rule, whereby temporary support arrangements are honored by the courts. With this in mind, it is often in the best interest of divorcing spouses to seek professional help when there is pressure to move out. Ignorance of one's rights may lead to unforeseen divorce legal issues down the road.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why moving out is the biggest mistake in a divorce," Joseph E. Cordell, June 19, 2014

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