It used to be assumed that it was the husband who would move out once divorce was in the works and the wife and kids would stay in the marital home at least temporarily until the finances were resolved. Not anymore. These days there’s often a debate about who should move out when a marriage ends.
Sometimes it’s not a question of who should move out – some people live separately under the same roof usually because of financial limitations and then there’s also nesting arrangements.
One thing’s for sure – if you’ve decided to divorce you can’t continue living in the same bedroom as your STBX so this is one of the earliest decisions you’ll have to negotiate and it isn’t always easy.
When my current guest, Helen asked her husband for a divorce he refused to move out. Here’s Helen:
He wanted a nesting arrangement so the kids would stay in the house. It got to be ridiculous. I had asked for the divorce in November 2008 and in June 2009 I said, “This is not good for my kids. This cannot continue.”
We were underwater with the house. We needed to do a short sale. He refused to leave. He flat out refused to leave the house. So I rented a house in the same town, maybe five minutes away so that I could get there before the kids started back at school. They needed that structure, especially my son with special needs.
My ex stayed in the marital home. He did not pay the bills. Even though I wasn’t there, I was still dealing with the realtor, was able to negotiate a short sale and everything else.
Five days before the short sale was supposed to happen my realtor called with the real estate attorney and said, “We have a problem. Your husband just walked in here and said he has hit rock bottom. He has nothing to lose and he is going to break the contract and they can foreclose around him. You’ve got a problem because your name is on that mortgage and the new owners could sue you.”
I felt terrible. I went to talk to my ex and told him he couldn’t do this. He said, “I don’t care. I’m not leaving. Pay me $5,000 for the first and last month’s rent and I’ll get out.”
It was basically extortion. But I spoke to my real estate attorney and he said, “You’re facing a lot more liability if you don’t.” So I was forced to pay him $5,000 so he would move out.
He moved out. He got an apartment and lo and behold he met a woman and he has moved into her house and he’s basically living off of her now.
The Divorce Coach Says
This is one of those situations where you hope that reasonableness will prevail.
If there are no kids involved, then the considerations likely are more straightforward from a logistical standpoint but maybe more locked in from an emotional perspective and may even be based on revenge and bitterness.
Remember that who stays and who goes should have no bearing on what ultimately happens to the marital home and chances are you’ll be sharing the expenses of two homes until your divorce is final.
If there are minor kids, then the measure of reasonableness is what’s in their best interest although you and your STBX may not agree on exactly what that means. It’s smart to check what you and your STBX are proposing with your attorney to make sure your actions won’t adversely affect future custody arrangements.
If you think your STBX should be the one to move out and they won’t, then you have two choices – either you move out or you ask a judge to decide and you may like a judge’s decision even less than the prospect of your moving.