Am I Risking My House If My Child and I Move Out?


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Question:

If my child and I move out of the house because of my child’s inability to cope with living in the same household as my spouse, am I putting my ability to win my house, as an asset in my divorce, in jeopardy of being awarded to my spouse?

Answer:

Richmond attorney Jessica C. Boutwell

I am not licensed in your jurisdiction, but I can give you some general guidance on this issue. This is a complicated issue that is difficult to answer without some more specifics on your situation. That said, you should not worry about the house being awarded to your spouse just because you move out, assuming the house is considered to be part of the marital estate. This will depend on your state’s laws, but generally, if you purchased the house during the marriage or using marital funds (you or your wife’s incomes during the marriage), the house will be marital property. One of the things you request from the court when you divorce is that the judge divide your marital property and debt, which would include your house. A court may consider a number of factors in dividing property and debt, and will divide your marital property and debt equitably; this is often, but certainly not always, half and half.

You should consider consulting with an attorney prior to moving out of the house so you will have a better idea of any other potential risks you may be facing by moving out. For example, your spouse may accuse you of abandoning the marriage; they may lock you out of the house and keep you from retrieving important financial documents that you will need for your divorce; or they may say that you are not allowing them to see their child. If you move out with your child, you will need to inform your spouse of where your child is and allow them reasonable access to your child.

Finally, depending on your child’s age, they may not be mature enough to decide whether they are unable to cope with her parent, or they may be saying that because they feel like you need support. You should be very careful about how your child is involved in your divorce and try not to make her feel like they need to choose sides. Divorce is a very difficult time for children – it is a huge life change that can be very destabilizing. You may have a difficult time discerning what is really going on in your child’s head, especially because your own emotions are also involved and your own opinion of your spouse may color the way you see your child’s actions and feelings. You and your spouse should consider allowing your child to see a counselor or therapist who can help her deal with the divorce.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Virginia divorce lawyer Jessica C. Boutwell, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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