Imagine that you and your spouse have been getting into disagreement for months. It begins to look like this “rough patch” is going to drag on for longer than either of you expected. You’ve reached your emotional breaking point – when they suddenly drop a bombshell: they want a divorce.

A natural reaction for most people in this situation is to dazedly pack a small suitcase and find a new place to live. That is when it is time to hit the brakes. Leaving the house after your spouse says they want to end things is not only unnecessary, it is usually a serious mistake.

You don’t need to leave your home

The house you and your spouse live together in is legally known as your “marital home”. Neither spouse can force the other to leave, even after saying they want a divorce. This remains true regardless of whose name is on the deed or who pays the bills.

Even in instances where one spouse tries to force the other out – by changing the locks, for example – the evicted spouse can have the police intervene to allow re-entry.

People often leave due to shock, a feeling that they “need” to leave or because they think that getting away will relieve stress. It may sound counter intuitive but staying in your marital home is often the best course of action.

Why stay in a marital home?

Voluntarily moving out of your marital home can come with a host of unforeseen consequences. By choosing to leave you are giving your spouse’s divorce attorney leverage to say that you abandoned your family. This is a common strategy and can have serious impacts on the amount of child custody you receive.

Not only can leaving affect child custody but bills as well. A court may give a “status quo order” which will require you to continue to cover expenses you previously paid for. This will effectively mean you will be responsible for your spouse’s bills and new expenses you incur while living on your own.

Finally, trying to move back in after choosing to move out can be extremely difficult. The police won’t be there to allow you back in if your spouse changes the locks or bars the windows. It would be a sobering experience to be met with an unresponsive, locked door should you want to talk.

Stay smart if you are suddenly faced with divorce. Try to give your spouse a wide berth and move into a guest room if possible. Being around each other may be tense, but it is a far cry from problems that could take hold if you storm out.