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Will Moving Out During Separation Hurt My Custody Rights?

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When you understand that a marriage is coming to an end, you may realize that a divorce is the best option for you, your spouse, and the rest of your family. The end of a marriage can be a very emotionally charged time, and you may believe that your best option is to get away from your spouse as soon as you can. Your spouse may even encourage you to move out of the marital home. There may be good reason to do so: If you and your spouse constantly get into heated arguments, it may be wise to get out of the house before things escalate, and to prevent your kids from seeing you fight.

Are there drawbacks to moving out during separation or after filing for divorce, but before the divorce is finalized? Should you stay in the home until the divorce is complete? Read on for a discussion of how moving out of the marital home can affect your parental rights, and call a seasoned New Jersey divorce lawyer for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Moving out can affect custody

Child custody is often the biggest concern for anyone going through a divorce. Unfortunately, moving out of the home can expose you to some risks that may affect your ultimate custody rights and visitation time. Your spouse may claim that you abandoned the family, that you are not taking care of the children, or that your new place of residence is unfit for housing children. If your relationship is very volatile, your spouse may even prevent you from seeing your kids until you get a court order.

Moreover, family court judges tend to prefer to keep the status quo in for children, which likely means leaving the marital home as the place of primary residence for the kids. You do not want to give your spouse more ammunition for seeking sole custody.

Protecting your parental rights after moving out

There are steps you can take to mitigate the risks of losing custody rights after moving out. First, make sure you keep in regular contact with your kids. Make sure you see them regularly, talk to them on the phone, and stay involved in their lives. If you and your spouse agree to a shared custody or visitation situation, even before a final court order, make sure that you make all of your parenting appointments.

Additionally, you must ensure your new residence is appropriate for kids: The new residence should have enough living space for the kids (e.g., not a one-bedroom apartment), it should be close to the marital home and in the same school district, if possible, and it should be safe. These factors will help you argue before a court that your home is fit for children, helping your chances of securing shared custody or significant parenting time.

Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney

If you’re in need of dedicated and compassionate legal help with child custody, divorce, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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