Fort Lauderdale, FL- Next to child custody, what happens to the marital home is of utmost importance to divorcing couples. It is typically their most wealthy possession and has a great deal of sentimental value. When a couple calls it quits, a number of questions arise about the home they own together. Questions like: Should both parties remain in the home? If one spouse leaves will they lose the house in divorce? How does leaving the marital home affect child custody?

Most Florida divorce attorneys recommend that when a couple separates, they do it completely. If their marriage is broken and there is tension between them, they should be living apart. Divorce negotiations tend to go much more smoothly when estranged spouses are no longer living together, constantly grating one each other. Conflict isn’t good for anyone, and it can be especially detrimental to a child’s well-being.

Leaving the family home, in most cases, won’t impact how the home and other property is divided in the final divorce settlement.  It will however, place an additional financial burden on the higher earing spouse as they will have two households to maintain. During tough economic times, some couples choose to live together because they cannot afford to maintain two households, this may be a doable situation in some states, but some states won’t begin the divorce process until you’ve lives separately from your estranged spouse.

Most states have “no-fault” divorce laws and require “equitable distribution” of marital property and assets to be divided evenly between both spouses. If one spouse gets to keep the home in divorce, they will likely have to give their ex an equal share of the marital home value or divide property to make up the difference.

There are a few states that still have “at-fault” divorce, in these states abandonment and infidelity can change how marital assets are divided. But there are still many factors that can factor into how courts divide assets in at-fault divorce states.

Florida is not an at-fault divorce state. Before making a decision or any other important decision about your divorce, these issues should be discussed with a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney.

When it comes to child custody, leaving the family home can put the spouse who moves at somewhat of a disadvantage. Frequent changes in living arrangements and dwellings can be very difficult on children. Understanding that, family court judges prefer children have stability and can sometimes decide the children stay in the marital home.

It is possible for the “abandonment” issue to come in regards to child custody, if the divorcing spouses failed to establish a parenting agreement before one them moves out of the home. This agreement should be done in writing and should cover a visitation parenting schedule. It should also be clear that the parent moving out won’t be giving up any of their parental rights.

Additionally, some states require that a couple be separated and living apart before they can begin the divorce process. It’s important you find what requirements your must meet otherwise, you could delay your divorce.

Before making any decision on who should leave the family home, a couple should contact a divorce attorney to protect your best interests.