What Happens If I Move Out During the Divorce?

One concern we see often in divorces is how to handle the marital home while the divorce is pending.  For a related discussion of how to ultimately determine what to do with the marital home at the conclusion of the divorce, and the logistics of those decisions, click here and here.

No Such Thing As “Abandoning” the Home

A very common misconception is that if one spouse moves out of the marital home, they will have “abandoned” any claim to it, whether it be the right to return to the home or the value of the equity in the home.  Neither concern is true but each warrants a discussion.

Moving out of the marital home during the divorce does not eliminate your right to return to the home or your claim to any possessions within the home that are marital property.  From a practical standpoint, however, returning to the home after moving out can be difficult.  If the spouse who did not leave the home decides to change the locks and security system codes (which is not unheard of), then the spouse who is attempting to return to the home, whether to move back in or to simply visit the home to check on or gather some belongings, will be thwarted.  This means that the attorneys of both spouses will have to work together to obtain the cooperation of both spouses to facilitate the returning spouse’s plans, a process that can be much more complicated and time consuming than you may imagine, due in part to the heightened emotional state of both spouses.  If the spouses cannot be convinced to cooperate in this manner, then a motion will have to be filed with the court to allow the spouse to return to the marital home.  Between the time it takes to draft and file the motion, coordinate hearing time, ensure the court is available, have the hearing, and obtain an order, months can go by.  As can be gleamed from the above, this can be a time-consuming and therefore costly process.  The conclusion here is:  Be cautious about moving out of the marital home if you think your spouse will lock you out as a result; you can get back in but it can be a complicated and costly process to do so.

When it comes to your legal claim to the value of the equity in the marital home, that is entirely unaffected by your decision to move out of the house during the divorce.  There is no legal concept of “abandonment” of the marital home in Florida law.  You will not lose your right to the value of the equity in the marital home, regardless of how the home is ultimately handled.  This is a pervasive myth in family law that has no basis in the law, perhaps based on antiquated statutes and common law concepts from ages ago.  It must be noted, however, that if you do move out of the marital home during the divorce, you and your spouse are still responsible for maintaining the cost of the home the way you had been doing so previously (maintaining the financial status quo).  In other words, just because you move out of the marital home during the divorce does not mean you are no longer responsible for helping to pay the mortgage, utilities, home owners’ association fees, etc.  This is why it is often financially not feasible for one spouse to move out during the divorce.  It is difficult to maintain two households on the income that was being used to support one household.  The conclusion here is:  You will not lose your claim to your portion of the equity in the marital home by moving out; however, it can be financially impossible to support two households while going through a divorce, so tread carefully.

Moving Out Could Impact Who Gets To Keep the House Ultimately

Something else to consider is that moving out of the marital home may impact who gets to keep the house ultimately.  If your goal is to move back into the house and keep it for yourself as part of equitable distribution, the fact that you already moved out and have not been living in the house for a substantial period of time may have a practical impact on whether you get to keep the house in the divorce.  Of course if both you and your spouse want to sell the house eventually, this should not matter.  Or if your spouse wants to keep the house and pay you your share of the equity in the home and you agree to that, this should not matter either.

Safety First, Always

If you feel that you need to leave the marital home due to domestic violence or fear for your personal safety, that should guide your decision to leave the home before any legal consideration mentioned above.  Your safety is the paramount concern.  Further, if thing have reached a point where you and your spouse cannot peacefully co-exist in the marital home, then moving out might be for the best.  A divorce can go on for well over a year and if you and your spouse are making each other extremely uncomfortable every day, it might be worth exploring your options to move elsewhere.

Making the decision to pursue a divorce is already one of the most difficult decisions a person can make.  Having to then decide how to navigate whether to move out during the divorce only compounds the difficulty and emotional strain.  We welcome the opportunity to help you make these decisions in a constructive and measured manner, so please click here to schedule a consultation.

Answering Some of the Most Common Divorce Questions

Today we are taking the opportunity to address some of the questions we hear most frequently about divorce.  As a divorce involves every area of your life, it is only natural for there to be all kinds of questions about it.  We anticipate this being an ongoing series as there are plenty of questions to answer.  If you don’t find the answer to your specific question here, please click here to schedule a consultation with us today so that we can help.

Are divorce papers public?

Answer:  Usually yes.  While this can vary from state to state, Florida has a broad public records policy.  A divorce is a legal action which goes through the court system, which means anything filed in a divorce is public record unless some portion of a document is redacted (because it contains sensitive information) or if the matter is sealed by the court at its conclusion.  One of the many benefits of a collaborative divorce is the minimal number of legal filings required to obtain a divorce—typically even the settlement agreement is excluded from the court record.  If privacy is your primary concern, consider a collaborative divorce.

How long will a divorce take?

Answer:  This depends on many different factors.  A litigated divorce typically takes the longest because the adversarial process adds many steps to a divorce.  In a litigated divorce, communications often go through both attorneys, which can substantially increase the time it takes to resolve any issue.  For example, if Client A is having trouble with an issue related to soccer camp, he brings it up to his attorney, who then contacts Client B’s attorney to address the issue.  Client B’s attorney then contacts Client B to discuss it directly, before then reaching back out to Client A’s attorney to relay the gist of the conversation.  Client A’s attorney then contacts Client A to let them know the results of the communication attempts.  Between scheduling issues, missed phone calls, email delays, etc., it can take weeks to resolve an issue that would take Client A and Client B ten minutes to fix if they discussed it themselves.  As you can imagine, it is common for litigation divorces to have lots of random issues like this come up, all of which act to slow down the process.

Additionally, any time the court becomes involved in resolving a dispute, everyone is bound to that judge’s schedule.  If the judge doesn’t have time for a hearing for two months, which is not uncommon at all depending on the judge and the jurisdiction, then everything is slowed down and delayed.

All of this is to say that litigation divorces, depending on things like the number and complexity of issues, the attorneys involved, the court’s calendar, etc., can easily take well over a year to obtain a final judgment, so it is important that you plan accordingly, both financially and mentally.

A collaborative divorce, however, tends to move much faster than a litigated divorce.  Communications tend to be more efficient as everyone works toward a common goal, even if they are not always in agreement about how to get to that goal.  The Collaborative team meetings are agenda-driven and very focused.  As such, more can be accomplished with less time.  Finally, the faster clients are in obtaining the various financial documents needed to understand the family’s picture and build options, the faster the matter can be resolved.  When all is said and done, the vast majority of collaborative divorces resolve within a year of beginning, with many resolving in under six months.  If the time it takes to divorce is your top priority, then consider a collaborative divorce.

Can a divorce settlement be reopened?

Answer:  With a few exceptions, probably not.  Most divorces resolve with a Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”), not a trial.  The Agreement may be reached before attorneys are involved, at or after mediation, or even the night before a trial.  But the fact is most divorces end with an MSA that the couple agrees to, often reluctantly.  A settlement agreement is supposed to provide a family with finality and understanding when it comes to the terms of their divorce.

The two most common ways an MSA is reopened is to modify either child support, or alimony, or both.  Child support is always modifiable so long as the statutory requirements are met.  Alimony is modifiable under certain circumstances, so long as the right to modify it has not been waived in the MSA.

Otherwise, short of evidence of fraud, duress, or material misrepresentation of fact, reopening an MSA is going to be highly unlikely, if not impossible.  If you are unhappy with the terms of the MSA you signed, there is not much to be done about it.  This is why it is extremely important that you a) speak to an attorney before you sign an MSA, regardless of who drafted it; b) make sure you understand the specific terms and conditions of the MSA (if you have questions, the time to ask is before you sign it and your attorney should ensure that you understand what is being explained); and c) take the time to contemplate the MSA and make sure you are comfortable enough with it to sign it (don’t rush on anyone else’s behalf—this is your life and your future).


Divorces are full of nuances and complicated decisions.  This is why it is important that you speak to an attorney who will help you understand the law and your options, not someone who will simply quote a statute at you and expect you to fully understand something attorneys go to law school to be able to grasp.  At Artemis Family Law Group, we pride ourselves on making the law as accessible to clients as possible.  If you don’t understand something, then our job is not finished.  Please click here to schedule a consultation at your convenience.

Tips to Prepare Financially For Your Divorce

If you find yourself at a crossroads, contemplating divorce, you’re likely aware of the emotional and personal toll it can take. But have you considered the financial aspects? Preparing for a divorce is not just about untangling your emotions; it’s also about safeguarding your financial well-being and future. Here, we’ll guide you through the essential steps to prepare for divorce financially, and also highlight some critical pitfalls to avoid.


  1. Understand Your Current Financial Situation

The first step in preparing for divorce is to have a clear picture of your current financial situation. Gather all your financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs, and information about assets and debts. This is the foundation upon which you’ll build your financial strategy.  Depending on how organized you are, this can take a while, so make sure you allow yourself an adequate amount of time and try not to get too frustrated at how arduous it can feel.  The only way to figure out what you are entitled to is to determine what you have (and what you owe) in the first place.  The sooner you begin this organizational process, the better it will be for your divorce process (it will cost less in legal fees for your attorney to sort through your finances, you will be able to start filling out your financial affidavit sooner and will have a head start completing your mandatory disclosure requirements).


  1. Budget for the Divorce

Divorces can be costly, and it’s essential to budget for legal fees, court costs, and other divorce-related expenses.  Consult with multiple family law attorneys to get a better understanding of what kinds of costs your case may involve. Having a budget can help you avoid financial surprises.  If you and your spouse are in a place where you can discuss these kinds of things, have a conversation about how to budget for the divorce; try to get on the same page in terms of how much you believe it will cost.  Sometimes the very act of trying to budget for a divorce together can help a separating couple stay focused on keeping the peace in the interest of staying on budget.


  1. Save for Post-Divorce Life

As you plan for divorce, start setting aside money for your post-divorce life. Create an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, and consider opening a separate bank account if you don’t already have one.  It is important to remember, however, that everything a couple earns while married is presumed to be marital, including emergency funds and separate savings accounts.  These will likely be subject to equitable distribution, but starting with some cash on hand to use for post-divorce life, even if it’s been split in some manner, will provide you a soft landing in the post-divorce landscape.


  1. Inventory Your Assets and Debts

Make a comprehensive list of your marital assets and debts. Include everything from real estate and vehicles to investments and credit card balances. Knowing what you own and owe is crucial for equitable asset division.  There are plenty of assets that are commonly forgotten in this process, so check here for a list of items to make sure you remember when creating your inventory of assets and liabilities.  Again, this will help you in your divorce process overall as well.


  1. Consider Your Post-Divorce Budget

Think about what your financial situation will look like after the divorce. This includes housing costs, child support or spousal support (if applicable), and your daily expenses. Creating a post-divorce budget will help you make informed financial decisions.  It will also help you understand what your needs may be in terms of spousal support, and it will also help clarify what your housing options could be.  Post-divorce financial uncertainty seems to be the thing that causes the most anxiety during a divorce, so the sooner you can start to get a realistic idea of what your financial future could look like, the more relaxed you will feel during and after the process.


  1. Avoid Financial Mistakes

When preparing for divorce, avoid certain financial mistakes that can have long-lasting consequences. These include:

Hiding Assets: Concealing assets is unlawful and can lead to severe consequences in court. Be transparent about your financial situation.  Also, from a practical standpoint, it is not particularly difficult to figure out that someone is hiding assets, so don’t waste everyone’s time trying.

Gifting or Transferring Assets: Trying to give away assets or income to friends or family to protect them from division can backfire during the divorce process.  And again, this is easy to figure out and there will be unfortunate consequences for the one trying to do this.

Becoming Unemployed or Underemployed: Intentionally quitting your job or reducing your income can affect spousal and child support calculations negatively. Maintain your employment to ensure a fair outcome.  There are ways to figure out that someone has intentionally become unemployed or underemployed and the court will remedy this by imputing income to the person who is trying to artificially reduce their income.


  1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Consider seeking advice from a financial advisor who specializes in divorce planning.  They can help you understand the financial implications and assist in making informed decisions.  It is important to make sure that they are qualified in their role and that they will not improperly influence you during the divorce proceedings.  A good financial advisor can be invaluable both during and after the divorce process.  They can also assist you with budgeting for your future as well.


  1. Protect Your Credit

It’s crucial to safeguard your credit during a divorce.  Monitor your credit report to ensure that your ex-spouse’s financial actions don’t negatively impact your credit score.  Talk to a lawyer or financial advisor if you are concerned that certain actions taken by you or your spouse could negatively impact your credit score.


  1. Update Your Estate Plan

Review and update your estate plan, including your will, beneficiary designations, and power of attorney. Ensure your wishes reflect your post-divorce situation.


  1. Consider Collaborative Divorce Options

If possible, consider the collaborative divorce process, which focuses on cooperation and amicable settlement. This can often be a more cost-effective and less adversarial option.


In conclusion, preparing for divorce, especially from a financial perspective, is a critical step in ensuring your future stability. Understanding your financial situation, budgeting, and avoiding common financial pitfalls are essential components of this process. Remember, it’s essential to seek professional guidance, whether from a family law attorney or a financial advisor, to navigate the complexities of divorce and make informed decisions. By taking these steps, you can secure your financial future as you move forward in your post-divorce life.  When you are ready to speak to an attorney about your options, please click here to schedule a consultation with our office.