10 Things to Consider Before Moving Out
of your Marital Residence
When divorce is filed in Texas there is a very high likelihood that a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a County Standing Order will be in effect when the divorce is filed.  The purpose of both of those types of documents is to preserve the status quo until the court can make temporary orders and until the parties can do discovery and a final resolution of the case by settlement or trial can be made.  The Texas Family Code gives the Court the authority to make these types of orders without any bond commonly required in TRO applications.  If you put the typical TRO and typical county standing order side by side, they would read very much the same.  They both go into effect when the case is filed.  Thus, there are a few changes that you cannot make once the case is filed. 

Importantly, whether there is a TRO, a standing order or a case has or has not been filed spouses cannot hide assets, give away assets, or create out of the ordinary debts.  Doing so is a breach of your fiduciary duty of fairness and fair dealing with your spouse.  The Court has plenty of ability to punish spouses who hide assets, give away assets or create out of the ordinary debts before or during a divorce. 

If you are considering separating from your spouse and moving out of your marital home, consider these things before you move and definitely before you file for divorce. 
  1. Consult a Board Certified Family Law Lawyer before making any significant changes if you are considering filing for divorce.
  2. What documents in the house do you need to get or copy? Ideally, you should have a copy of all of your important financial documents before you leave the home. Sadly, sometimes the documents cannot be found when you go back for them or ask for them in the discovery process of a divorce. Most recent documents can be obtained from the original provider. It is the older documents which can be hardest to find.  While all documents are important, you will want all documents which prove your separate property ownership of assets. For example:
  • the documents which prove your family gave you the down payment on the original marital residence;
  • Retirement records which prove the amount of money in your retirement before your current marriage;
  • Financial records which who the amount of money in your accounts before your current marriage or show any inheritance received during the marriage.
  1. If your spouse operates a business for which the tax returns are not an accurate reporting of income and expenses of the business, but there are other records which do show the accurate operation of the business, then the documents which accurately show the business operations are valuable. 
  2. If you are afraid the documents will be missed, copy the documents, put the copies in a safe place outside the house and put the originals back where they were. 
  1. Are there any items in the house, whether they have monetary value or not, which you would cry if they were destroyed or missing?  If yes, move them to a safe place preferably outside the marital home.
  2. Change your passwords on everything to something your spouse will not think of.  Particularly critical are passwords to your bank accounts, online accounts and computers.
  3. If there are critical recordings, photos, text messages, and the like on your electronic devices be sure they are backed up to cloud storage and there is a copy on a thumb drive and store it in a safe place outside your home.
  4. If your paycheck is direct deposited into a joint bank account, consider changing it to be deposited into an account solely in your own name. 
  1. Divorce can be expensive. Do you have access to your own funds or credit cards in your name with a substantial credit limit? 
  1. If not, talk to family members who may be able to financially assist you.
  2. Although it is possible for the Court to order some portion of your attorney fees in a divorce to be paid by your spouse, don’t count on it. 
  3. Most experienced family law attorneys require an upfront retainer or fee deposit. 
  1. Take all of your own clothes, personal belongings, passport, jewelry, and sports equipment. 
  1. Yes, your lawyer can get you back into the house, but you may not be able to find the items when you go back to get them.   
  2. Don’t forget to consider what is in the attic of the house. 
  1. Take photos or a video of the house inside and out.  Film the closets, cupboards, and drawers before you leave.  This is so that you have evidence as to the condition you left the house in as well as remembering what is there. 
  2. Most importantly, if there is violence in the marriage, no matter what the cause, get out.  Have a small bag packed for you and the children and have a clearly thought out plan. A safety plan can be as extravagant as a hotel with security floors or as simple as staying with a friend.  Personal safety is worth far more than any amount of money or possessions.
If you would like to discuss strategies on how to move out of your marital home or any other family law issues you may have, please contact our office, at 214-303-0142 or our temporary number 972-452-3968, e-mail or visit our website to schedule an appointment.
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Attorney Carol Wilson has skillfully litigated and tried complex divorce, property division, and child custody cases for more than 30 years.  Carol provides expertise, focus and compassion in times of family turmoil.  Carol is a graduate of SMU, JD. 1985, became Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, 1992, and established her firm in the Turtle Creek area in 1995.  Law Office of Carol A. Wilson, PLLC, principal office in Dallas, Texas.

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