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When you’re in the midst of a divorce, you can expect a lot of changes to happen rapidly. If you didn’t work before, you suddenly have to find a job and adjust to a new schedule. You have to share time with your children. And that person who you thought would always be there for you suddenly isn’t.
One of the first – and biggest – life changes to come with a divorce is deciding where you should live.
If your divorce process is quick and easy, this decision may not be an immediate necessity. However, many divorces take several months – even years – and spending that amount of time living with an ex is unbearable to many people.
There really is no right or wrong answer as to where you should live as you’re getting divorced. Here are some things to think about as you decide where to settle:
Living with Your Ex
For a lot of people, this is the least disruptive and most economical route to take during a divorce.
Living with your ex means that you don’t have to worry about someone finding a new place and paying rent or a second mortgage, and it doesn’t change the routine for your children.
Selling or leaving your family home, a place you have likely spent a fair amount of time and money making your own, is an incredibly emotional experience for many people. You may be hesitant to leave, not wanting to change things you’re comfortable with, hassle with finding a new place, or leaving behind the memories you’ve made.
You and your ex can live in the same home during your divorce, but just be prepared for a rough road.
Set boundaries very early in the process, including who gets access to which rooms and items, who sleeps where, and whether or not you can have guests over. Consider putting these items down in an email or other written format to refer to later in case issues arise.
A big potential pitfall of this plan is that you may underestimate the emotional impact living with your ex may take.
Are you prepared to stay in a house with someone you thought you’d be doing life together with, but now you’re working toward separate existences? What if they meet someone new while you’re still living there? What if you meet someone new?
If you do plan to stay in your marital home with your ex, even temporarily, it’s probably a good idea to find a therapist or close confidant you can go to and discuss your thoughts and feelings about all the changes in your life.
You Move out
Perhaps you see your divorce as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start your life over, including changing up your whole living situation.
Maybe you didn’t really like the house where you lived, anyway, or you can’t afford it. Perhaps you need to relocate to get a better job, or to get your kids into a better school district.
Whatever the reason, many people elect to move out of the family home prior to a divorce being finalized. This can mean a move into an apartment or rental home, in with family or friends, or into a new house that you purchase. In some cases, this move also can mean moving in with a new significant other.
One of the first things you need to consider when deciding to move out of your home during a divorce is whether you can financially support the move. If you and your ex own the home together, you are still at least partially responsible for the mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, and any other upkeep on it. If you cannot comfortably finance your new place as well as your old home, you may have to make some changes.
You can get out of your financial obligation on your old home by refinancing it solely in your ex’s name or, if you’re both moving, selling the house. This can be a lengthy process and often is dependent upon your ex also agreeing to the plan.
Another consideration when deciding whether to move is logistics. This can be everything from whether or not the place you’re considering is in your children’s current school district to how far it is from your favorite grocery stores or the gym you belong to.
Your new life will take a lot of adjusting, and throwing a whole bunch of wrenches into the system – such as a move far away from work – can be more overwhelming than it has to be.
Finally, be sure to take into account who you’re going to live with. Often, there isn’t an issue in your divorce if you move out of the family home and in with relatives or friends in order to find a stable living situation.
However, if you plan to move in with someone who could be seen as a danger to your children, such as a sex offender or someone with a history of domestic violence, you could be in for a rough road when it comes to determining custody.
If you’re considering moving in with a significant other, you may have some difficulty in your custody or spousal support cases as well. Be sure to discuss your plans to change your living situation with an attorney before you make any final decisions.
Your Ex Moves out
Another common scenario is that your ex moves out of the marital home, and you remain there. This happens often for couples with children in the hopes that allowing them to live in the home they’re used to, attend their same schools, and otherwise keep life as normal as possible in a time of transition.
This decision isn’t always easy, especially now with more couples bringing property into a marriage. You and your ex may need to navigate who buys whom out of the financial obligation and equity in the home and who gets to stay.
A Note About Post-Separation Living Situations
If you are the victim of domestic violence in your marriage, it is important that you live wherever you feel safest. For those who intend to remain in the marital home, getting safe may require you to temporarily vacate the home and obtain an order of protection requiring your ex to leave the property.
Do what is best to keep you, your children, and anyone else who lives with you safe from violence. An attorney can help you navigate the details of your living situation.
Experienced Divorce Representation in Washington, D.C.
At Lopez Law Firm, we know that deciding where to live following a separation can be emotionally fraught and complicated. We work with you to find the best solution for your needs and the needs of your family, getting you all settled as soon as possible. Schedule your consultation today!