Especially in today’s market, the family home is likely the most valuable item in your divorce. During divorce, you may be tempted to move out to avoid conflict, but, before you do, you should know how moving out can affect your Illinois divorce.
Your home may be marital or non-marital property, depending on when and how you acquired it. If you bought your home together with your spouse during the marriage, it is likely marital property.
If you owned your home before the marriage, or if you inherited it or received it as a gift during the marriage, it may be non-marital property.
If you used marital funds to pay for the mortgage, taxes, insurance or improvements on your home (or added your spouse’s name), the home may be partially or fully marital.
Your home as marital property
If your home is marital property, the court will consider several factors to determine how to divide it. These factors include the contribution of each party to the acquisition, preservation or increase in property value, and the dissipation of each party’s assets. Other factors include the property value assigned to each party, marriage duration and relevant economic circumstances.
The family court judge may also consider the reasonable opportunity of each party for future asset acquisition and income, property division tax consequences and any other relevant factor.
Children are factored
One of these factors is also the custodial provisions for any children. The court may award the home to the parent who has primary physical custody or who has more parenting time. The judge may also consider the children’s attachment to the home, their school, friends and neighbors and their stability and continuity.
What about abandonment?
If you move out of your home, you may affect your case for the home. However, if it is a marital asset, you cannot abandon it. Moving out may signal to the court that you are willing to give it up, or that you do not need it as much as your spouse.
Moving out may also affect your ability to pay for another residence, put you at a financial disadvantage and reduce your bargaining power.
Moving out may also affect your relationship with your children. If you move out without a court order or a written agreement with your spouse regarding parenting time, you may have less access to your children than you would like.
Therefore, before you decide to move out, you should try to reach an agreement with your spouse on how to handle the home and the children while the divorce is pending.