My wife and I have been having a lot of problems over the last couple of years and things have only gotten worse in the last few months. We are constantly arguing and, aside from the fact that the tension is almost unbearable and I’m having trouble sleeping, I’m really concerned about the effect all of this is having on our two kids. I’d like to move out of the house but I’m afraid if I do that I will be accused of deserting my family and that I may lose rights to my kids. What can I do?
Sometimes the best thing you can do for the health of your family is to create some space between you and your spouse. Even though divorce is bad for children, psychologists tell us that open conflict is even worse. Many people facing this problem come to us expressing concern over whether or not moving out will be seen by the courts as “abandonment” of their families.
In Missouri, as in most states, one spouse doesn’t need to accuse the other one of any wrongdoing to get a divorce. In a “no fault” divorce, the only requirement is that the marriage be “irretrievably broken” because of “irreconcilable differences.” In plain English that means that if you want to end your marriage, a court will let you do that. Before no fault divorce came along, you couldn’t get a divorce unless you could convince a judge that your spouse had committed some bad act, such as adultery, cruelty, or abandonment.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should leave your home without considering the consequences and doing some planning. If you are the primary breadwinner in your family you should try to work things out with your spouse so that the household bills continue to be paid and so there is money available to buy groceries and other necessities. At the same time, you will want to make arrangements to ensure you have regular contact with the children, ideally on a predictable schedule. You don’t want to be constantly negotiating over when you will have the kids in your care.
If both spouses are employed, it makes sense to come up with some means of sharing the income and dividing up the bills during your separation. It won’t do anyone any good to have your credit ratings go down the drain because you couldn’t agree who would be paying the cable bill.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to go over your concerns with an attorney experienced in divorce law before making your move. The more planning you do, the better chance you have of keeping your sanity as you go through your divorce.