Who Should Be the One to Move Out After Separation?
The decision is made. Either one or both of you know that separation has to occur. So many thoughts and strong feelings might be swirling between you at this difficult time, and it can be hard to know where to start.
One very practical decision will be how the physical separation will proceed. There are many financial and child-related issues to think about, such as how a second household might be established. In many cases when people separate, they decide that having physical distance in the form of two addresses is very important. Others opt for separation under one roof for a number of personal and financial reasons. But when one person needs to move out – who should that be?
There is no right or wrong way to physically separate. Each couple and family is unique regarding what will work for them. In making this decision, keep in mind our key variables of separation.
Safety and children
The first crucial element of your decision-making will be to consider the welfare and safety of all those in the current household. The ‘best interests of the child’ is a standard of care that flows through much of family law.
If you and your partner have children living in the family home, then the welfare of the kids must be central to the question of moving. In fact, throughout the journey that is taken post-separation, the best interests of the children must remain front-of-mind at all times.
If you fear violence from your partner towards yourself or the children, it is important to seek assistance from a domestic violence support service and/ or the police. In severe cases, it might be appropriate to obtain a domestic violence order to prevent your ex from causing harm during the separation process.
Think about any strong feelings and impulses that you yourself might also be having: try to gain some clarity on how the children can best be cared for in this difficult period.
The legal aspects
In coming together as a married or defacto couple, many ‘markers’ both legal and informal, led to your lives combining. And as you separate, there are a number of similar guide posts to keep in mind. Some people want to move on quickly after separation and obtain a divorce. The law in Australia however requires that you and your partner be separated for at least 12 months before a divorce can be sought.
And in establishing the 12 months of legal separation, it’s worth noting how the courts view various living arrangements. If you both decide to stay in the family home, then this can be a more challenging task.
You may be subject to queries regarding financial separation, sleeping arrangements, sexual involvement, usage of space, and the opinion of friends and associates regarding your separation.
Property, pets and accommodation
There are quite practical elements that can also affect the decision as to who should move out. For the partner with an entrenched home-based business, or the main manager of a rural property, it might simply be common sense to choose them to stay in the home during separation.
Family pets can also be an important consideration, with the ability to feed, water, shelter and exercise all being part of the ‘moving out’ equation.
Another reality will be the family finances and how two households can be sustained on the available funds. If this appears to be difficult to resolve, good advice on short-to-medium term financial solutions can be obtained. Expert legal advice on finance and separation is also available.
No ‘right’ answer
Who should be the one to move out at separation can be an emotional and challenging decision. Try to discuss the above factors as calmly as possible. Where a stalemate occurs or violence is threatened, you need to call on outside help to assist with the transition. Yet if a civil and thoughtful separation can be managed, it will certainly be to the benefit of all concerned.