One long-ago November 13 – I believe it was on a Friday – Felix Unger was requested by his wife to remove himself from his place of residence. Other men (and some women) don’t wait for the request, but simply decide to leave.
Living with a person who has become your sworn enemy may not be easy; but leaving your marital home, whether willingly or unwillingly, is a decision that requires careful consideration.
Five minutes after you walk out that door in a huff, your most prized possessions may be flung out the door or smashed into pieces. If your absence lasts a bit longer, all official traces of your existence on this planet may soon disappear: family photos, your birth certificate, your passport and your desktop computer with your drafts of ten nearly-completed spy novels could all end up becoming part of the town’s new landfill park.
In some states, although not in Connecticut, leaving your house during a divorce may mean renouncing all claims to it in the divorce settlement.
Before letting things drift to the point of no return, it is wise to seek legal advice on the consequences of moving out, and the pros and cons of alternate housing options available to you.
One of the first things a lawyer will tell you is the importance of preserving certain documents required in the divorce process: your marriage certificate, your financial and tax records, property deeds, etc. If you no longer want to live with your spouse, but you want a hedge against the destruction or sale of your personal property, you may want to document your possession of certain important items by taking photographs of them, especially given that you may lose free access to the house if and when your spouse seeks a court order to that effect.
Courts may look favorably on a decision to leave a home that has become a toxic atmosphere for your children, if you can document convincingly that this was indeed the case. On the other hand, sudden abandonment of parental responsibility is much more likely to count as a grave strike against you.
Another factor to consider is that, once someone has indicated you are persona non grata at your residence, remaining there unwanted could open the way to allegations, whether warranted or spurious, of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, not an element you want to see as a major factor in your divorce case!
Hirsch Legal, LLC, based in Shelton, Connecticut, serves divorce and family law clients in New Haven and upper Fairfield County (Danbury, Bridgeport, Milford, Waterbury). Whether your choice to leave home is a hypothetical glint on the horizon or a decision already rashly taken under duress, Carmina K. Hirsch, our principal attorney, can help you weigh the legal pros and cons of such a step. If you are facing or considering divorce in Connecticut, we hope you will come see us at your earliest opportunity.