In Pennsylvania, couples have to be separated for one year before they can file for divorce. Usually, this means “physical separation” and this is best accomplished when the spouses are able to live in different residences.
While the date of separation is important because it gets the one-year clock ticking, it’s not as simple as moving in with your parents, your best friend, or getting your own studio apartment, not if you have children with your spouse.
Child Custody Considerations
We understand, it can be very difficult to live with your spouse after you’ve decided to file for divorce. You may argue all the time, or if someone cheated, it may be nearly impossible to sleep under the same roof because one of you feels so betrayed. However, if you have minor children together, you should think twice before moving out.
Your gut reaction may be to pack your bags as soon as divorce is on the table. While that can be very tempting and easy to justify, a wrong move can have a negative impact on child custody. Before you pack up and move out, you should discuss child custody with a skilled divorce attorney.
When you live at home, you have daily interactions with your kids, but when you move out, your spouse has more time with the kids than you. To protect your parental rights, it’s wise to have a court-ordered child custody schedule established before you move out of the family home. While child custody may be a non-issue in your divorce, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
If at some point during your divorce, your spouse does not agree on child custody and you move out of the house without a temporary child custody order in place, gaining 50/50 custody may be difficult. You risk your parenting time and you could end up paying child support because you have less time with your kids.
Related: Beware of Pennsylvania’s Dead Beat Parent Law
If you are seeking a no-fault divorce and you have children, we suggest contacting a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce attorney from our firm about the best way to proceed. We can help you sort out your living and child custody situation.