Moving Out or Moving Down: Housing Considerations in Divorce

IL divorce lawyerWhen two people decide to make a split in their relationship, one of the first and most difficult decisions is often where the couple will live. If they are not married but only living together, the choice is often much simpler, as the person whose name is on the lease or mortgage will inevitably retain use of the property. If a true joint lease or mortgage, then it can indeed be every bit as complicated. But for a married couple - especially with children - the challenge is deciding who will stay in the marital home. In most cases, men tend to be the ones to depart quickly upon conflict. But this may not always be a good decision. So, before you move out of the marital home, here are some considerations you might want to discuss with a DuPage County divorce lawyer.

He Who Stays and He Who Pays

Effective January of 2019, Illinois’ child support statute has dramatically changed. Unlike before, the law no longer creates a strict guideline based on just the number of children a couple has. Instead, the new law takes into considerations such as:

  • How many children the couple has
  • Whether there are children from other relationships
  • Who is paying health and dental insurance
  • Who is paying daycare and other childcare expenses
  • Relative income of both parties
  • The relative amount of parenting time each parent has

This is a significant departure from the past, and it can be a good thing for parents who have fairly equal parenting time with a spouse who earns far less. By having more equal parenting time and covering extra expenses for the kids, it reduces the amount of direct support that must be paid, if any. However, it is important to keep in mind that the marital home has a somewhat intangible effect on parenting roles. Here is why.

Judges in Illinois typically want to create as little change for the children as possible. Therefore, the parent who keeps the marital home often, though not always, has a presumption of providing stability for the kids. So in many cases, when men presumptively move out to go find an apartment or stay with friends, they give their spouses an upper hand.

Why Stay?

If at all possible, it is best not to move out until you have to. We should take a moment to qualify this statement by saying, if there is domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or child abuse involved in the marriage, then this does not apply. Safety always takes priority. However, often men will move out, leaving the wife with the kids, in the same school district, with the same neighborhood, same friends, and same community that they are used to. Later, during a divorce trial, a judge may consider this established security and sense of place when looking at how much parenting time to give each parent. Plus, if the cost of maintaining that comfortable and secure environment is high, the person who moved out can likely expect to have to continue paying to support that life for the children (and incidentally the ex-spouse).

How to Stay

For many couples, divorce is painful. There may be infidelity, anger, depression, or financial trouble. So, it can be difficult to consider staying in that type of environment. Here are some options to consider:

  • Move into the basement. Some couples are able to coexist by one of them moving into a basement or separate section of the house. This eliminates any adverse leverage.
  • Coordinate schedules. If your work schedules allow for it, you may be able to reduce the time you must spend alone with each other.
  • Arrange evenings. While it is certainly not ideal, you may consider just finding a way to organize your schedules so that you are not around each other much. You take one evening to go to a friend’s house and return for bedtime. The next night, perhaps she does the same, and you stay home.

While this can be challenging, especially with children, moving out of the house can be a strategically bad choice for many divorcing individuals. But before you make any serious or lasting decisions, talk to a skilled DuPage County family law attorney right away. Call the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio today at 630-920-8855 or visit the firm online to learn more.



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