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Your Divorce Advisor Tips

10 Tips on whether to stay in your home together during your divorce

  • Have there been any incidents of physical or verbal abuse? If so, separate in order to avoid future situations which could spark violent incidents.
  • Are you able to communicate on basic issues such as mowing the lawn and paying bills? If not, even small things may escalate tensions unnecessarily, making life miserable.
  • Is there a reasonable housing alternative for the spouse who will be moving out? If you have children, is that housing alternative close enough to the children's school and neighborhood that spending time with both parents is easily arranged? If you stay a bit longer, can you make a permanent move, avoiding a temporary move in the meantime?
  • Can you afford to separate? Or do you need to live together to economize and save for the day of inevitable separation? If you stayed together for a few months, could you pay off some of your jointly accumulated debt?
  • If you have children, are you able to behave civilly to your spouse? If you cannot model positive, adult behavior in front of your children, you risk increasing the stress they experience from the divorce. You also risk alienating them from you. Even if you feel your spouse causes the problems, not you, consider separating for the good of the children. What's best for them is not always what's cheapest or most convenient for you.
  • Do you want to keep the house after the divorce, and your spouse does not (or vice versa)? Consider encouraging your spouse to move out by "giving" him or her the deposit for an apartment from marital funds, without asking for reimbursement at the end of the divorce.
  • Will moving out of your family home trigger an unanticipated consideration? The biggest tax issue is the capital gain exemption for profits on the sale of your family home. In order to qualify for your $250,000 exemption, you'll need to live in your family home for at least 2 of the last 5 years. For example, if you bought your house 22 months ago, moving out now will disqualify you for this tax exemption if the house is sold.
  • Can you both respect each other's privacy while staying in the same home? Can you stay emotionally separated while living together, without being tempted to "spy" on each other? Are you at the emotional point where you won't react to phone conversations you accidentally overhear, and you won't be tempted to steam open your spouse's mail? Will staying together create a situation of mistrust, making it more difficult for the two of you to resolve your divorce settlement later?
  • Are you able to agree on how bills and house expenses will be paid during the waiting period before your divorce is finalized, as well as temporary division of parenting time parenting time with your children? Assuming you've considered items 1-8 above, and you're able to agree on how to handle things on a temporary basis, separation may make sense. If you don't agree, and resolving these issues will require more time for decision-making, consider staying together.
  • Is there a legal presumption in your local court about separating that the judge will consider as part of your final divorce? Most states have abolished "abandonment" laws, and other presumptions concerning separation, but before you make such an important decision you'll want to ask a local attorney about the specifics of your jurisdiction.
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