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Tip #1: Don’t Move out Of the House, or You’ll “Pay” for It.

Jan. 2, 2019

When men come in for a divorce consultation, or just seek advice about how to plan for a divorce, they've already taken steps to leave the marital residence. This is one of the most common financial mistakes men make. Don't do it!

Perhaps the mere sight of your wife makes you sick. Perhaps you're worried about the overall situation in the residence deteriorating quickly. Or perhaps you think that the little irritating gestures and not-so-subtle provocations are merely preludes to something more serious, like throwing your stuff out on the lawn, or deliberately provoking you into a physical fight. These are all legitimate concerns, and the purpose of this article is not to minimize the very real risks that some people face when dealing with an unpredictable wife under extreme stress.

However, as a practical matter, there are financially compelling reasons why you shouldn't leave the marital residence. First, if you leave, you'll have to find somewhere else to live. And unless you have a brother-in-law with a moldy basement, or a sympathetic parent to welcome you back to your nautical-themed bedroom in the attic, you'll have to pay to stay somewhere. You will essentially increase your expenses, or perhaps even double them. Finances are one of the most frequent sources of tension in any marriage, and often one of the main factors leading to a divorce. By drastically increasing your expenses, you might unintentionally wind up throwing fuel on an already raging fire.

Second, if your wife doesn't work, or if you have children, there will undoubtedly come a time in the divorce process where your spouse asks the court to make you pay support. If you have purchased, leased or invested in another place to stay, you may find yourself on financially thin ice once you get ordered to pay support. That $3,500 a month condo in a prime downtown location might not seem that enticing once you crunch the numbers and realize you have $25 a week to spend on food, after paying support.

Most men don't realize that many courts won't award support to a wife if everyone is still living under the same roof. The court often reasons that if the parties are maintaining the status quo and the bills are being paid, then no one needs to be paying support on a monthly basis. However, once you leave the marital residence the court can decide there are now two separate households. And if your wife is unemployed, underemployed, or simply makes far less than you do, the court might very well award her support. Then, while she's meeting up with friends three times a week for cosmopolitans and chocolate martinis, you're left deciding which item off the dollar value menu you want for dinner.

It's hard to live with someone you are divorcing. If you are miserable in their presence, chances are the feeling is mutual. This mutual tension and unpleasantness is frequently an incentive for both of you to bargain and negotiate in good faith. This usually ensures that the divorce will proceed more quickly, and at must less cost. And that's what everyone really wants, in the end.