There’s no question it can be difficult to reside with your spouse during the divorce process. It may be tempting to separate, but before you do, you may want to consider the following questions (just to name a few):
Where will your children live? Under Missouri Statute 452.310.3, “Until permitted by order of the court, neither parent shall remove any child from the jurisdiction of the court or from any parent with whom the child has primarily resided for the sixty days immediately preceding the filing of the petition for dissolution of marriage or legal separation.” Translation: if you move out of the home without the court’s permission, the children may need to be in the care of the parent who is still in the marital home.
What about maintenance (alimony)? The amount of maintenance is based, in large part, on a person’s need for maintenance. If you move out of the marital home and decrease your living expenses, you may inadvertently lower your standard of living. The court may then determine how much maintenance you need based on this new, lower standard of living. This may result in less maintenance than you would have received had you stayed in the marital home.
Can you afford to move out? Paying for one house with two incomes is hard enough. When you separate, there may not be enough money to maintain two homes. There is no guarantee the court will require one spouse to support the new residence of the other spouse during a pending divorce proceeding. An added benefit to staying in the marital home is that you know it will be cared for properly
Are you able to purchase a new home? If you plan to borrow money to purchase a separate home for yourself while you are still married, you will need your spouse’s consent (and there is no requirement he or she will give that consent). You should be very careful when entering into any contracts for the purchase of real estate if it depends on the cooperation of your spouse – cooperation that is certainly not guaranteed during a divorce!
There are times when it may be appropriate to separate prior to the entry of the divorce judgment. For example, where domestic violence is present or where an agreement to separate has been formalized between the parties and the court has signed off on the agreement. Before you make any big decisions, such as moving out of the marital home, it is important to consult with an attorney.
Be aware every situation is unique. If you have questions about your individual situation, please contact an attorney. This post should not be considered legal advice.