Divorce can be emotional, as we’ve said on this blog more than once, and anger is a very big emotion that can make you choose unwisely in a divorce. Your immediate impulse might be to grab all the things you think belong to you and move out, but both parts of that are bad ideas.
First of all, Texas is a community property state, which means that while a couple is married, whatever property they acquire together belongs equally to both of them. That typically applies to big-ticket items like your house, your cars, investment properties, savings accounts, and the like, but it also applies to furniture, appliances, and other items.
It’s very possible that you get the stuff you want in the end when your divorce is settled, but you actually have to go through the process of getting divorced first before you can lay claim to who gets what. Depending on how things go in the divorce, you might be able to negotiate that reasonably — but taking a bunch of stuff and leaving probably puts that in jeopardy.
Getting the house is a whole different matter, though, and leaving it while you’re getting divorced can put your claim on it in danger as well — depending on how a judge sees it. The best thing to do until the divorce is finalized, if you’re litigating ownership of the house or even looking to sell it and split the proceeds, is to stay in the house.
If you have children, it’s all the more reason to try to maintain stability. In an article earlier this year, we talked about the concept of birdnesting, in which the kids stay in the house full-time, the parents maintain a separate residence, and each of them take turns between the family home and the satellite residence.
That is, however, obviously more expensive, as you’re paying rent on a second property while waiting for the outcome of your case. But it can be worth it, signaling to a judge that neither party is relinquishing claim to the house but giving you and your spouse time with the kids as well as time alone.
Of course, if there’s a domestic violence situation that makes it unsafe to stay at your home, you should leave and not worry about the house in the short term — you’ll certainly have a compelling case to bring before the courts.
If you decide that you need to leave for your own sanity, be sure to talk to your lawyer before making such a move. Acting independently of what your lawyer’s counsel might be could adversely affect your case. At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we start with an initial consultation that helps set a course to settle your case, and then we go about doing that with our experience working to guide us.