For those of you who have children, leaving the marital residence has awful implications. Unless you’re taking the children with you or unless there is already a parenting plan of some sort in place, by leaving the marital residence you have almost guaranteed that you are not going to be seeing your children as much. After all, you’re not there. You won’t be getting them up in the morning, won’t be getting them ready for school, won’t will be making their breakfast, and won’t be taking them to school or other places. You’ve cut yourself out of the equation.
Your wife might have been more agreeable to working out a parenting schedule while she had the stress and the constant irritation of having to discuss it with you all the time, but now that you’re gone she might no longer have any incentive to come to the table in good faith and work out a parenting time schedule that benefits you or the children. For those of you that have children, this is the key reason not to leave the house. By deciding to leave, you’re not just getting away from her. You’re deliberately placing yourself into a scenario where your children won’t have a father around on a regular basis. That alone should give you pause.
An unintended side effect of leaving the marital residence is that sometimes it sends the wrong impression to the judge. It shouldn’t matter, but sometimes it does, much like many things in life. If the issue of who gets the house is one of the items you’re dealing with in your divorce process, the fact that you voluntarily left it might very well be the tiebreaker in the judge’s eyes if your case winds up going to trial, or if the judge must decide. If your wife has a particularly cunning attorney they might try to use this against you in other ways, such as suggesting that you really weren’t that interested in the residence anyway, or even more insidiously, that you really weren’t interested in seeing your children that much. After all, if the children were your number one priority why would you ever leave them? Judges are people too, and while the vast majority of them do very, very good work, just like you and I they are occasionally swayed by things they shouldn’t be and make decisions based on gut impressions rather than the law. Don’t give them the opportunity to do so.
The more time you spend with your children, the better. And the longer you stay in the house, the more time you have to discuss things with them and prepare them for the new reality that will be coming. Remember, it’s always easier to front the issue with your children than to try and explain to them later why they woke up and “Daddy wasn’t there…”