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How to Move Out of Your Home Before or After Divorce

The entire divorce process can feel overwhelming. With a number of serious considerations throughout the divorce journey, it’s easy to become emotionally drained. From moving out of your home after the separation to working out parenting details with child custody and property division, it is crucial to have a divorce plan for yourself to navigate these waters.

Before you even think of moving out, you should have a plan in place and a strategy for telling your spouse and anyone else you live with. This plan is especially important if safety is a factor. A good place to start is to pinpoint what type of communicator your ex is so that you keep your divorce conversations productive and as amicable as possible. Being intentional and considerate with these conversations, and generally how you approach every situation throughout the divorce process, will give you a better experience overall.

One of the biggest changes you will face is your living situation. Whether you’re already separated or about to part ways, moving out of the marital home before, during or after a divorce can feel intimidating and difficult to maneuver. However, there are steps you can follow to ease through the transition.

Here are our top tips for how to approach moving out of your home after divorce, plus advice for how to handle it if your spouse is the one moving out.

Who should move out of your home if you’re getting divorced?

Only you or your spouse can decide who vacates the shared home. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Who initiated the separation?
  • Might a new physical space help or hinder your ability to move forward?
  • Is your current living situation is unfit for you and/or your children?
  • Does one of you face more limitations should you need to move out (financially, physically, etc.)?
  • Who is the primary parent and your children?
  • Is the mortgage in one or both of your names?
  • Who is more financially invested in the home?
  • Is the geographic location of your home more convenient for one of you?

Is it possible to cohabitate or try nesting?

Before pulling the trigger on a move, think about this nontraditional “Plan C.” Opt to use the nesting choice of living. This means that the children stay in the family home and each parent takes turns living there — usually they switch every other week or month. Each spouse has their own home elsewhere for the time they are not residing in the shared home.

This way, the children have the opportunity for normalcy and stability during divorce, without having to sell the home. There are obvious negatives that come along with this option but this could be perfect for your family.

Consider the financial implications of moving out

Going from a two-income household to a one-income household, you have to take a hard look at what the implications of staying in the home versus moving out will have on your finances. Be honest with yourself, and adjust your budget to weigh your options.

Start with the logistics of this move. Property division is something you must work out in your divorce settlement, so packing up items might not be as easy as you think. How will you pack up? What are your options for where you can move? Who might come along with you? Considering all these is crucial, especially if these choices might paint you in a more positive or negative light in divorce court. If you have children, your decisions should revolve around their best interests.

Selling the home (both moving out) may be your most practical choice to keep yourself and your family afloat. Meet with a real estate agent or do some research yourself. How much is your current home worth, how will the sale be divided, and how quickly is it likely to sell?

Once you know the ballpark of what you can expect to receive should you move out (if anything), you’ll need to come up with your budget for your new post-divorce home. Decide on an area and look into what the average asking price is in your ideal location. It also bodes well to create a non-negotiable list. If you have kids, the distance may play a major factor in where you end up living, so add this to the list.

Who will the kids and pets live with?

If you have children or pets, moving out of the home you share with your spouse gets more complicated. Hopefully, safety is of no concern and you both can agree on who gets to live with your children or pets and on what schedule (if you’re sharing child custody). If not the courts will need to decide (some states even allow the court to decide custody of pets should a couple be unable to agree).

Prepare to move out

After deciding that divorce is the best option, living separately from your ex feels like the natural next step; however, you should not rush or leave impulsively. With divorce being complicated both legally and emotionally, you’ll want to plan your exit carefully. We recommend using our pre-leaving checklist to get prepared. There are several possible consequences (namely financial penalties or losing legal rights) of moving out too hastily. You’ll also want to prepare if your ex prevents you from returning to the residence.

Who gets what? Dividing your stuff

Naturally, there will be some tough conversations about how to split up the belongings within the marital home. While you can take personal items with you when you move out, be aware that most states consider all the items, assets, and debts you incurred during the marriage as shared equally between you and your spouse. So, you will likely need to negotiate who gets what during the property division step in your divorce process.

Start fresh in your new home

There are a lot of steps to take in the beginning phases of your home search. For instance, apply for a mortgage preapproval to gain a better understanding of what you’re able to afford now that you’re on your own. Having this information can give you and your ex some idea of where you stand in a financial sense. From there, you can start attending open houses, contacting a real estate agent, and possibly even putting offers down.

Figuring out your new single, post-divorce life will be your next great adventure. When you move into your new home, you receive the chance for a fresh start. Discovering your new style and decorating your house to reflect this version of yourself will feel almost therapeutic. This is your new beginning! Soon, you can set forward on the path you choose, with a home that reflects your tastes and becomes your retreat.