Jennifer Safian

Divorce and Family Mediator

One of the more frequently asked questions I hear is: “If I move out before we have a signed agreement, will I be accused of abandonment? Am I doing something illegal? People around me say that if I do that, I can lose access to my children as well as my rights to my property.” Since New York State became a no-fault divorce state in October 2010, “abandonment” is not a grounds for divorce.

Certainly, the impact of separating and moving out can be very traumatic under any circumstances. It is even more traumatic if one party is taking all the actions “solo” while the other party is feeling abandoned and rejected. The party that is being left may be so affected by the situation that it puts him/her psychologically in a very bad place. Anger and the need for revenge, amplified by the feeling of abandonment, may make one spouse less amenable to working with the other spouse on an equitable agreement. Here are a few thoughts on what you may want to do if you move out before you have worked out the terms of your divorce, in order to try to maintain an amicable process with your spouse:

  • When you enter the mediation process, request that the issue of one party moving out be addressed.
  • Agree in writing that one party is going to move out on a specific date, and that this move will not impact in any way custody or financial decisions between the two of you.
  • Create a brief interim agreement on how you will share time with your children as soon as you start living separately. Then, you can take more time in developing your long-term parenting plan.
  • Outline how you will face the immediate expenses of an additional apartment while you work on a long-term financial agreement.
  • Agree before moving out on how/what/when you will tell your children, members of your families, friends and people at work.

You may have other issues that are particular to your family, and this may be a good time to bring them up. Let your mediator know your concerns so that you can both move along, feeling more in control of your decisions.

How would you handle the question of moving out before the divorce is final?

Please feel free to share any thoughts you may have on this issue.

Jennifer Safian

Divorce and Family Mediator

phone: (212) 472-8626 email: js@safianmediation.com website: www.safianmediation.com

Divorce and Family Mediation Upper East Side of Manhattan (NYC) New York, NY

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