Are you thinking about getting a divorce? Are you worried that if you move out, the Court will conclude that you abandoned the home? That’s a common question that’s often raised in dissolution of marriage cases.
Rest assured, just because you relocate does not establish that you’ve abandoned your home. In fact, there’s a presumption that assets acquired during the marriage, including your home, belong to both of you. This means that you both still have a right to the house until a court rules otherwise.
That being said, there are certain things that may be affected by such a decision; and you should keep them in mind before doing anything detrimental for you and your finances.
If you have children with your spouse, child support will likely enter into the equation. To calculate the amount, the law requires taking into account each spouse’s income, the costs of the children’s daycare and healthcare, and, of most relevance in this regard, each parent’s time sharing schedule with their kids. And time sharing is likely to be impacted, at least in part, by a need to maintain consistency for your kids, i.e. by keeping them sleeping in their regular beds in their usual bedrooms in the home they are used to with as little change as possible.
So, if you are living somewhere else, and the kids still spend the majority of their time at home with your soon-to-be-ex, your spouse might have a better claim for child support.
When determining whether to award alimony, the Court looks at several factors, many of which are listed at Florida Statute §61.08: the duration of the your marriage, your standard of living during the marriage, the age and education of each spouse, and your contributions (of each of you) to the marriage, among other things. However, the court will first determine whether either party has a need, and whether the other party has any ability to pay support to the other.
It’s not often that a person can maintain expenses for two households. If you are, in part, responsible for contributing to the mortgage and maintenance of your home, and, now that you’ve relocated, you’re making similar payments somewhere else, the court might view that as some indication that you have the ability to pay for alimony. Or, on the other hand, the court might consider that you need some help from your spouse in maintaining a separate household.
The Bottom Line
Although moving is not “abandoning” your home, at least not in Florida, these are just a couple of thoughts about how moving out of your home can impact your divorce. Divorce statutes have many variables and nuances. How the courts interpret them and how they then apply them is always subject to argument. Even with a basic understanding of how things work, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney to get some advice on what steps to take to best serve your family and yourself. This way, you can ensure that you obtain answers that apply specifically to your circumstances.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.