Does it Count as “Abandonment” if I Move Out Before The Divorce is Final?

A close up of a well-used fabric suitcase

Just last week we talked about whether or not you can change the locks in your home when your spouse moves out before the divorce. It can be a tricky subject, and one that needs the input of a skilled divorce attorney, because there are a few legal landmines down that path you’ll need to watch out for. 

But one interesting subject that has come up in response to that particular article is the issue of ‘abandonment’. Specifically, does it count as abandonment if you move out of your family home before the divorce is final? Let’s take a look at that…

What exactly does “abandonment” mean in Michigan?

Truthfully? It means nothing, at least, not in this context. People throw the word ‘abandonment’ around because they hear it used in movies or on social media, and they assume they know what it means. For example “He just moved out and left his wife and kids! That’s abandonment! He’s going to lose custody of the children and his right to that house!” But that’s not how it works in Michigan.

For starters, Michigan law doesn’t work like that. Moving out before or during a divorce is a decision we recommend you make after talking to your divorce attorney. But whether or not you move out doesn’t affect your claim to your marital assets, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your rights to your children! 

Moving out doesn’t mean you’re “abandoning” your kids!

In many cases, it’s the man who moves out when a marriage falls apart. This is usually (but not always) because the mother is the primary caregiver for the children. However, as long as the father continues to see them regularly and provides for them, he can’t be accused of “abandoning” his children.  The simple act of leaving the home, in and of itself, is not abandonment.   

And when you consider the situations that often lead to divorce, sometimes staying isn’t the right choice. In cases where the couple can’t seem to stop fighting, avoiding a domestic dispute is a great reason to leave. Having a screaming match in front of your kids everyday while you try to live in the same space and stick it out for months during the divorce process is more likely to have negative long term consequences than one of you moving out.

And it doesn’t mean you no longer have any rights to your home either!

Anyone who moves out before or during the divorce process in Michigan will still be entitled to their marital portion of the home. It might be difficult to go back to living in the house once you leave, but only if your spouse requested and was granted a court order preventing you from returning. Otherwise, it’s you home too, and you have a legal right to your portion of all marital assets.

If you’re considering divorce and want to move out but are concerned that it’ll affect your custody and asset division, come and talk to us. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our skilled and experienced family law attorneys can be reached 24/7 at 866 76 5245 to help you figure out every aspect of your Michigan divorce.