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Can moving out affect future custody?

The beginning process of divorce typically follows a certain pattern. After attempts to reconcile the marriage fail, couples tend to start taking the initial steps of separating while filing for divorce. One of these first steps is usually for one spouse to move out of the marital home. For childless couples, this move may not affect much more than property division in a divorce. However, for couples with children, a move from the marital home may affect future custody arrangements.

When married couples decide to divorce, one or both spouses may seek temporary orders. A family court can put orders in place to address issues like alimony, child support and child custody. Temporary orders made of a monetary nature are often revisited before the divorce is final to include information received by the family court through the discovery process. Unlike child support and alimony, child custody is almost always based on what is best for the child. Barring any major concerns brought to the family court's attention through the divorce process, the living arrangements maintained during the divorce process may not change much after the divorce is final.

Moving from the marital home may help save spouses from an unpleasant situation, but it may also prompt the family court to make temporary orders that are difficult to change later. For example, if a father moves from the marital home and agrees to have visitation on the weekends, and this arrangement seems to work for both spouses and their children, the family court may not see any reason to change it. Likewise, if one spouse leaves the marital home and makes no initial effort to obtain temporary orders for custody, the family court may be more reluctant to hear their pleas for custody later.

Child custody arrangements are determined through the consideration of the child's best interest. For divorcing parents, requesting a temporary order that accurately reflects how they would like the custody arrangement to be following the divorce, may help secure it in the future. As with all aspects of divorce, temporary child custody orders may be more easily obtained with the help of an attorney.

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