If you're going through a divorce in Pennsylvania, there's a good chance that you're wondering if you should move out of the family home before, during, or after your divorce case. It depends. If you are even slightly concerned that child custody may be a contested issue, we suggest thinking twice before you make the move.
When one spouse moves out of the house without the kids, they are setting a legal precedent. By "precedent" we mean that you're setting a guide that will later be considered by the judge. If you move out, and the new living arrangements seem to be working out well, the judge may not want to disrupt the children's lives any more.
Plus, your spouse who stayed with the kids could argue that another major life change could be too disruptive for the children, and so things should stay the way that they are, with you moved out, and the other spouse keeping the kids.
While there's no "one size fits all approach" to child custody cases, judges often consider the status quo.
If you're concerned about custody, be cautious.
If custody may one day be an issue, it's not a good idea to move out of the house and leave your children behind.
If living with your spouse is unbearable, it's only natural to be seriously considering moving in with family, or getting your own place. However, if you move out and leave your children with your husband or wife, by your actions you are sending a strong message to the judge that your spouse is equipped to provide a good home for your children.
If you want to take your children with you, but you're certain that your spouse won't agree to the idea, it's best to go to court and get the court's permission before you move out, or your plan can backfire on you and a judge can order that you return your kids home.
If you do decide to move out and leave your kids behind, be sure to spend a significant amount of time with them. If you fail to maintain ongoing contact with your children, your spouse may argue that you abandoned the kids, and if the judge is convinced of this, it could negatively affect your right to spend time with your children.
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