Does Moving Out Hurt Your Edwardsville, Illinois Divorce?

July 3, 2024

 

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process. One of the most common concerns for separating couples is the impact of moving out of the marital home on property division. Many fear that moving out will hurt their Edwardsville, Illinois divorce. They fear it will negatively affect their rights regarding the house and other marital assets. Or, they think if they throw the other person out, they will automatically get all of the equity in the house. Illinois law does not work that way – or at least has not since I started practicing law in 2003. Never once have I tried a case where the Court considered the equity in the house abandoned by the party that moved out (or was kicked out).

 

This blog post explores this topic in the context of Illinois law, specifically focusing on 750 ILCS 5/503, the statute that governs the division of marital property. I will discuss the misconception of abandonment and clarify your rights related to marital equity, even if you’ve moved out.

 

The short answer is moving out will not hurt your Edwardsville, Illinois divorce in most cases

 

The most common misconception is that moving out of the marital house means abandonment. Its a myth that has persisted throughout my career. However, Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/503) doesn’t consider simply moving out a factor in dividing marital property. The focus lies on fairness and considering various factors to ensure an equitable distribution.

 

Here’s why moving out doesn’t equate to abandonment:

Spousal autonomy: You have the right to choose where you reside, even during separation.

Financial reasons: Sometimes, moving out may be financially necessary due to affordability concerns or emotional safety.

Temporary separation: You may intend to reconcile or eventually return to the home.

 

Factors Influencing Marital Equity Division (750 ILCS 5/503)

While moving out doesn’t automatically affect your rights, several factors influence how the court divides marital equity. 750 ILCS 5/503 outlines the factors a court considers when dividing marital property. Here are some, but not all, of those factors:

 

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or increase or decrease in value of the marital property (e.g., inheritances, gifts, prior ownership).

 

  • The length of the marriage.

 

  • Contribution to appreciation: Did one spouse contribute to home improvements that increased its value?

 

  • The age, health, station, occupation, circumstances, and needs of each party.

 

  • The parenting provisions for any children.

 

  • What’s not included? Whether you resided in the home or not. The court focuses on the overall contributions to the property’s value throughout the marriage, not just who lived there at the time of separation.

 

Moving Out: Potential Advantages and Disadvantages

While moving out doesn’t directly affect your claim to marital equity, there are potential advantages and disadvantages to consider:

Advantages:

 

  1. Reduced tension: Living apart during separation can alleviate conflict.
  2. Establishing independence: It allows time to adjust financially and emotionally.
  3. Safety considerations: In cases of domestic violence, moving out may be essential for safety.

 

Disadvantages:

 

  1. Maintenance burden: If you remain on the mortgage, you’re still responsible for payments even if you’re not living there.
  2. Impact on parenting: Moving away may affect your access to children and parenting arrangements.

Recommendations for Protecting Your Rights

 

Even though leaving the house doesn’t automatically forfeit your claim, here are some proactive steps you can take:

  1. Document financial contributions: Maintain records of premarital ownership, mortgage payments, and home improvement expenses.
  2. Seek legal counsel: An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal aspects of property division.
  3. Maintain open communication: Discuss your intentions with your spouse and attempt to reach a fair agreement regarding the house if possible.
  4. Prepare for the possibility of selling the home: Research market trends and consider the potential costs and timeline involved.

 

When Moving Out Can Hurt your Edwardsville, Illinois Divorce

 

There are some occasions when it could hurt your case, such as:

 

  1. The person moved out years prior and has not contributed to the mortgage since
  2. The house has fallen into bad shape because someone moved out
  3. The bank forecloses on the house because the mortgage is not paid

 

Conclusion

 

Moving out of the marital home doesn’t automatically affect your share of marital equity in Illinois. The court considers various factors outlined in 750 ILCS 5/503 to ensure a fair distribution.

 

I am ready to help you with your uncontested, negotiated or collaborative divorce. In 20 years of practice, I have helped clients navigate moving out, issues of division of the equity in the house and helping them move on to their new future. Contact me through my website or call me to see if I can help.

 

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with an attorney to discuss your specific situation and understand how Illinois law applies to your unique circumstances