You and your spouse are fighting frequently and intensely. You see the emotional toll this is having on your kids. You are stressed out and emotionally exhausted. Your first instinct is to move out of the house. Should you leave?
Before you do anything, go see a divorce lawyer. Moving out can have adverse effects on your case in many ways.
Let’s focus on custody. If you move out of the house and leave the kids with your spouse, your kids may be in danger and you are not there to protect them. Moving out is an acknowledgment that your spouse is a good parent, able to take care of the children, and best suited to be the primary custodian of the kids. If you vacate without have a written custody agreement in place signed by both parties, you will not have a custody schedule and your access to your kids may be restricted or dictated by your spouse. If you are not home, you cannot do as much with your kids, see them as often, and be a part of their daily lives. If you left the kids in the house with your spouse, you may be putting yourself at a disadvantage in a custody case. If the kids are holding up fairly well, maintaining their grades at school, not acting out, judges are often inclined to maintain the status quo, avoid change-if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–and keep the kids in the family home for stability and continuity–with your spouse being the primary physical custodian and you having some minimal visitation. By moving out, you have lost your chance of having a shared physical custodial arrangement. It is better for kids to have both parents actively involved in their lives. You may forfeit this by having moved out.
Having said that, there are times when the tensions between you and your spouse are adversely affecting your kids. What can you do? One solution is called “bird nesting”. Nesting is where you and your spouse take turns living in the house with the kids. The kids stay in the house all the time. The parents rotate in and out. One week you would live in the house with the kids and your spouse would stay at a rented studio apartment or with friends or family. The next week your spouse would move back in the house and you would move out to the apartment or stay with family or friends. This way the kids are always in their house and they will have the benefits of having two parents equally involved in their lives. One caveat: such an arrangement can be confusing for kids. As always, closely monitor how the kids are doing at home and at school, academically, socially, and emotionally. And before you make such arrangements, make sure to go to a child psychologist to discuss what to say to the kids about the separation and the new housing arrangements. You want to be on the same page and present a united front with your spouse in discussing these sensitive issues with your kids.