Living Arrangements During An Ohio Divorce Or Dissolution

Living Arrangements During An Ohio Divorce Or Dissolution
August 10, 2023

Divorce is rarely a smooth process. Hurt feelings or the distance that has grown between you and your spouse could make it difficult to continue living under the same roof. One or both of you might be wondering if moving out of the marital home could be a good way to keep the peace until the divorce or dissolution is complete. In times like these, it is always wise to seek the advice of a collaborative divorce lawyer or child custody attorney. 

At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC, our team of Cleveland divorce lawyers understands that it can be trialsome to live with the person you are planning to leave. They also know the ins and outs of divorce in Ohio and can offer sound, reasonable advice that can benefit your case in the long run.

Stay or Go?

This decision may seem straightforward. You cannot get along with your spouse, and one or both of you continue to annoy or harass each other.  Who would want to live with constant threat of hostility? No one does, and that is why most Ohio courts automatically issue a mutual divorce restraining order upon the filing of a Complaint. This mandate prevents you both from deliberately annoying, harassing, or abusing one another physically and/or mentally during the duration of the divorce process. 

The divorce restraining order does not cut off communication, but lays ground rules that must be followed to preserve civilized relations until you are both free to go your own way. That said, if one party cannot abide by communicating with the other, or residing together becomes completely untenable, then further actions can be taken to require the offending spouse to leave the home. If violated, a divorce restraining order also enables either party to file a contempt action, and if the harassment continues, the offending person could face serious penalties. 

If you’re working with a collaborative divorce lawyer, their goal is to seek solutions short of litigation, so that a couple can calmly and respectfully get through the divorce process as quickly as their case allows. That said, if your spouse is threatening to be or already is physically abusive toward you and/or your children, you are not obligated to remain in the home. Your divorce attorney can file an ex parte civil protection order that would order your spouse to move out temporarily, until a full hearing can be held. If the situation is more urgent than that and you are in immediate danger, contact the local police. Afterward, ask for a copy of their report as evidence for later use.

When Children Are Involved

One thing to remember about the above situations is that we are assuming there are children living at home with the couple. Courts and child custody attorneys always have the goal of acting in your child’s best interest, no matter the situation. That may mean putting up with less-than-ideal living arrangements until the divorce process is complete. 

Why is this the case? Put simply, the court makes decisions based on what will cause the least upset to a child’s life. That typically means remaining in the home where they currently live, if possible, so that they can be close to family and friends, continue attending the same school, and preserve many of the same routines they have become accustomed to. 

If you decide to move out of the family home prior to a divorce being finalized, know that temporary custody may be awarded to your spouse, if they remain in the marital residence. While that is not always the case, often, the court does not want to risk unnecessary disruptions to the child’s life that could result if you, their parent, is living somewhere else. Temporary custody ensures that they can remain in familiar surroundings with family and friends.

Child custody can easily become one of the most highly contested issues in a divorce, leading to intense and protracted litigation. If you and your spouse are pursuing collaborative divorce or dissolution then you are one step ahead of some, since you clearly want to come to a mutually agreed upon resolution. It is also clear that you both put your child’s best interests above your own immediate wishes. Waiting to move out of the family home until after the divorce decree is official is one more way to ensure that you end your marriage while still preserving a measure of stability and safety for your child(ren). Remaining in the same home means that you can continue to spend valuable time with your child(ren) and assure them of your love and support during what is surely going to be a trying time for them. You can also have a better chance of retaining a full share in their upbringing and obtaining an equitable custody arrangement.

If You Don’t Have Children

Not every married couple seeking a divorce or dissolution has children at home. If there are no minor or dependent children involved, then the court will not see one spouse’s moving as a threat or an unreasonable upheaval–they should feel free to move out of the home if living there has become unbearable. Aside from incompatibility or harassment, other reasons that a spouse may want to move out of the marital home prior to the divorce or dissolution being finalized could be that they want to change employment, would like to be closer to family, or that they prefer to start over in a new location.

Will moving out of the marital home affect a spouse’s claim to personal property or other assets? Generally the answer is no, because part of the aim of divorce proceedings is to equitably distribute assets, including the marital home. However, where a spouse moves may pose an issue. If a dependent spouse is hoping to receive spousal support after the divorce, it would not help their case to move in with an individual with whom they are romantically involved. 

When determining whether to remain in the marital home or move out during divorce or dissolution proceedings, another thing to keep in mind is that once you leave, you may be forfeiting your rights to personal property that remains in the home. Without a written agreement that clearly parses ownership of the various items in the home, there is always a chance that you may not be able to recover something you hold as valuable.

Divorce and Residence Requirements

Ohio, like many other states, has residency requirements related to your ability to file a divorce case. You need to have lived in the state for six months, and in the county where you are filing for ninety days, before the court will hear your case. So if you have recently moved into the state, you will need to wait to meet those requirements. If you are considering divorce while also making plans to move, it’s best to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer to be sure that a move will not jeopardize or stall your case. They will be able to inform you of any potential repercussions and effects that could result from relocation.

Experienced Child Custody Attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio

Though you are well within your rights to move anywhere you wish before, during, or after a divorce or dissolution agreement is reached, a move could affect a child custody decision and your ability to file for divorce or dissolution in Ohio. At the Law Offices Of Cara L. Santosuosso, LLC we understand that this is a difficult time for everyone involved. We also know that when children’s best interests are kept in the forefront, everything will turn out better in the end. As our client you can rest assured that whatever the situation in your home, we will fight for your rights as a person and parent and will always keep an eye on what is best for your child(ren). Our goal is to keep family relations strong, however they may shift or change. We can all agree that children deserve that much.

If you find yourself in a situation where you find it difficult to stay in the same home with a spouse while in the process of a divorce or dissolution, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team of divorce lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio. Call us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you to preserve your relationship with your child while still retaining your rights.