Out of all the reasons to move out of your home, divorce can be one of the most emotionally devastating. Not only is it likely to stir up memories both painful and bittersweet, but many people focus on the psychological and financial realities of divorce more than the practicality of moving. In fact, most recent divorcees simply want the moving process to be as quick and painless as possible. All of this can be a challenge when separating any joint assets.
But moving out prior to the finalization of a divorce can be costly both to your assets as well as your legal resources. It might seem like it makes sense to avoid seeing your spouse on a daily basis in order to lessen any emotional burden, but it can also present you with the dilemma of claiming a home as your exclusive property if you’re not careful.
Before you think about moving on with your life, here’s a checklist of a few things to keep in mind during the divorce process.
1. What Are Your Legal Rights To Your Home?
Unless there is a criminal complaint, your partner cannot legally force you out of your home during a divorce. Your rights to your home are contingent on whose name is on the title as well as who has primary responsibility for mortgage payments. Be certain to provide an attorney with both a copy of your deed as well as a copy of your last four or five mortgage payments if you’re planning on contesting your spouse’s right to home ownership during your divorce, even if it is a jointly owned property.
2. Gather Relevant Financial Information
- Account statements for both investments as well as your bank
- Credit card statements
- Debt records
- Employment records
- Pension plan information
- Retirement savings accounts
- Social security records
- Tax returns
- Wills and living trusts
3. Don’t Hold On To Sentimental Objects
Your marriage may have failed, but that’s no reason to have a constant reminder of that failure when you’re trying to move on—even if it was a significant part of your life. For some people, that can mean selling off their wedding gifts. For others, that could mean getting rid of photo albums. Whatever it is you need to do to lift that weight off your shoulders, do so; no matter how painful.
4. Be Prepared For A Dramatic Lifestyle Change
Even divorces resulting from short term marriages can present you with new challenges you might not even recall from your days of being single. And while the prospect can be a healthy one, it can also be as frightening as it is uncertain. But while post-divorce life can be challenging, it can also prove to you just how independent and resilient you really can be.
5. Discuss Your Feelings Honestly With Both Your Spouse And Children
You may be full of resentment and confusion, but bitterness and spite will only eat you up during a divorce. Talk about your feelings honestly, but calmly and rationally—particularly around your kids. Children can frequently be more understanding and cogent than we give them credit for, even if they’ll have numerous questions you may not be prepared for. Don’t coddle them, but answer their questions fully and graciously. It’s better to be honest than to mislead a child.
6. Update Your Contacts
Both professionally, socially and legally. Update your new status on your next tax return. Don’t forget to leave a forwarding address for any magazines you may subscribe to, your cable company, any civic associations you may be a member of as well as local state entities.
7. Redecorate Your New Home With You In Mind
Which can be as sparse, opulent or rustic as you’d like. Whether you’re moving in with a new partner or taking your time before jumping into another romantic entanglement, your new home is a reflection of you. Take some time to think about what your home says about you. Think about your own personal tastes, not just a prospective partner. You’ll feel much more confident without letting a spouse decide your tastes for you.
8. You May Not Forget, But Learn To Forgive
This can be one of the hardest tasks for anyone going through a divorce; and while you should ideally learn to forgive your spouse prior to moving out, the process can take months—if not years. But it’s a necessary one, even if you’re under the impression they’re entirely to blame. Divorce is frequently a two way street, and road rage is never applicable. For the sake of the both of you, learn to move on. It can be the greatest reward either of you can give each other.