Questions to Ask Before Leaving Your Spouse

Who is moving out?  Who is staying in the marital residence?

For renters – are both parties on the lease?  Will the landlord revise the lease if one spouse moves out?  Do you need to take your name off utility accounts, or transfer them into your name?

For homeowners – if there is no agreement on who will live in the house or whether the house needs to be sold, then dig in your heels and stay put in the home until it is figured out.  Are both spouses listed on the mortgage(s)? Is the home jointly-titled?  When was the last appraisal (not property tax assessment)?  How much equity is in the home?  Are there any liens on the property aside from the mortgage(s)?  If you want to sell it, is it “market ready”?  What repairs are necessary?  Get bids/quotes for repairs.  If you want to keep the home and your spouse is on the mortgage(s), can you refinance the balance of the mortgage(s) into your own name?  Contact lenders to get preapproved for a refinance.  Will you be able to pay all of the household expenses yourself plus the mortgage(s)?

If you have children, you need a written parenting time schedule in place before either parent moves out.  If you cannot agree on parenting time, then you take a huge risk if you move out; there is no guarantee of when you will see or talk to your children; it will all be in the other parent’s control until you go to court.  You should try to contact your children at reasonable times and intervals, and request parenting time on a regular basis.  Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be expected to pay some of the children’s expenses or pay money directly to the other parent as a form of child support.  Any payments for the children, to the other parent, for your individual or joint bills, need to be documented.  You need a receipt or copy of a check for everything you pay until the divorce is final.

These are just the basics. Have a game plan and make your move in the most rational way possible after considering at least these items.