Decided to Separate? What to Do Before You Move Out

If you and your spouse are separating, are you the one moving out? Before you relocate, here are tips and issues to consider as you go about finding a new place.

Make a Budget: Seeing a list of all your daily and longterm living expenses can be a big help in determining what kind of rent (or mortgage) you can afford in your new place. As tempting as it can be to show up your spouse with a “look how great I’m doing” moment of revenge by renting out a penthouse apartment overlooking the Manhattan skyline, if you can’t afford it, it’s just not worth it.

In making out a budget, remember that you may need to take into account any child support or alimony you may now be obligated to pay monthly, if temporary orders during your separation are put in place. If you currently own a home with your spouse, you could also be responsible for partial payment of the mortgage until the house is sold or your spouse takes over payments as part of your divorce settlement.

What Kind of Place: Once you know how much you can spend on rent, take a look at places through the lens of what works best with your current situation. Do you have kids that will live with you, even if it’s part-time? Make sure the space can comfortably accommodate them, ideally with a bedroom where each child can leave their belongings and truly feel “at home.” If you have children who will spend school nights with you, you may want to limit your search area to apartments in your same community or nearby towns. If kids are not in the picture, you may want to consider living closer to your own family, closer to your work, or somewhere completely new!

Check Your Credit: You may need to submit to a credit check as part of your rental application, so it’s a good to obtain a report for yourself first to see if there are any errors or items that can be removed. If you and your spouse have been renting, you can also request that your name be removed from the lease and utility bills to avoid future financial obligation if your spouse stops paying.

What to Take: Pack up all personal belongs, including: clothing, medicine, family heirlooms, mementos, and any items you personal purchased yourself or received as a personal gift. Should you take the TV? Maybe, depending on what the two of you agree to. It’s usually best if you can prove that it was purchased with personal funds and meant to be your own property (and not a gift to your spouse or family). Also remember to make a note of all address, phone numbers, and account information regarding pension accounts, bank and credit accounts, insurance policies, and any other financial paperwork If you don’t have online access to financial records, make a copy of old bills and statements before leaving.

Account for What Is Left Behind: One last step before you leave for good? Walk through the house and take pictures of all items being left behind that you may want to claim as marital property during your divorce negotiations. Back these photos up with a written list.