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Typically, until the divorce is finalized – you shouldn’t be moving anything out of the house which has substantial value. If it has substantial value – enough that your spouse would want it, then you shouldn’t take it out. If you do, then the spouse could say you’re acting unfairly, and unethically – and that means the judge can hold it against you.
Typically, we tell spouses NOT to touch ANY assets. For example, you shouldn’t touch the bank accounts, or any other financial assets. Also, you shouldn’t take ownership of assets like cars, etc, and act like they belong to you. Until the court makes a decision, or until you have a firm agreement in place with your spouse which is approved — the property belongs to you both, and thus – the property CANNOT be taken exclusively.
If you decide to move out before the divorce is finalized, you should only take assets that are yours personally. For example, your clothing, your personal belongings that were clearly established as “yours.” You shouldn’t touch “joint” or “community” property – which means things like cars, that were paid for by your spouse, etc.
While it’s tempting to leave the house before the divorce is finalized – it’s not a good idea. You should speak to your attorney before even making the decision to leave the house. In most situations, leaving the home can hurt your case. There are several things to consider before you pack up, and move out. In most marriages, the home is the largest asset. As a result, the home is part of your marital estate and the value should be split. If you name is on the deed then you’re ownership of the house is safe. But if you leave the home prematurely, and your name isn’t on the deed – it can lead to financial complications. As a result, it’s not recommended that you move out.
If you are the primary earner for your household – moving out of the house doesn’t mean you can stop paying the bills. In some states, there is a”status quo order,” which is instituted. This requires the party to continue paying the marital bills as was done before the divorce. If you leave the house – this can mean you’re now paying 2 sets of bills. In addition, you now have to be legal fees for the divorce, which means it might make sense to just stay in the house!
Additionally, problems can get worse if children are involved. When you are living in the same house, you have interactions with your kids. If you move away, you have less time to spend with them. It’s extremely important you have an agreement – which is court ordered, in order to establish a placement schedule for the children. Without an official schedule, you could wind up in a situation where the kids aren’t in your control at all.
In most cases, it’s safest to stay in the marital home. You won’t lose access to your possessions, or assets, and you have nothing to lose.
If you have more questions, speak to one of our NY divorce lawyers today.