How to Move Out of Your Home before or after Divorce

The divorce process can feel overwhelming. From moving out of your home to working out details about child custody and property division, it's crucial to have a plan of action in place to help yourself navigate these waters.

If you're planning to file for divorce or move out, you will need to inform your spouse, and anyone else living in your home, of your intentions. A good place to start is to pinpoint what type of communicator your spouse is so you can keep your divorce conversations as productive and amicable as possible. Being intentional and considerate with these conversations – and every other situation you encounter throughout your divorce process – is likely to give you a better experience overall.

Whether you’re already separated or about to part ways, moving out of the marital home before, during, or after a divorce can feel intimidating and difficult to maneuver. 

Who should move out if you’re getting divorced?

Only you or your spouse can decide who vacates the shared home. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Who initiated the separation?
  • Would a new physical space help or hinder your ability to move forward?
  • Is your current living situation unfit or unsafe for you or your children?
  • Would one spouse experience more negatives by moving out (physically, financially, etc.)? 
  • Who is the primary caregiver of your children?
  • Is the mortgage in one or both of your names?
  • Who is more financially invested in the home?
  • Is the geographic location of your home more convenient for one of you?


Is it possible to try nesting?

If you have kids, you might decide to consider a nontraditional Plan C: nesting. This means that the children stay in the family home, and each parent takes turns living there. Usually, they switch every other week or month. Each spouse would also maintain a home elsewhere for the time they are not living in the shared home.

With nesting, the children can experience more normalcy and stability during divorce, and you don't (yet) have to sell the home. There are obvious negatives that come with this option, but it could be perfect for your family.

Consider the logistics of moving out

Property division

Property division is something you must work out in your divorce settlement, so packing up items before your divorce settlement is drafted and approved by a judge might not be as easy as you think.

How will you pack up? What are your options for where you can move? Who might come along with you? Considering all options is crucial, especially if your choice might paint you in a more positive or negative light in divorce court. If you have children, your decisions should revolve around their best interests.

Download: What to Include in Your Settlement Agreement


Selling the home (both spouses moving out) may be the most practical choice to keep yourself and your family financially afloat. Meet with a real estate agent, or do some research yourself. Find out how much is your current home is worth and how quickly it's likely to sell. Consider how you and your spouse would divide the proceeds of the sale, too.

Once you know how much money you might expect to receive from the sale of your home, come up with a budget for your new post-divorce living situation. This may impact where you choose to live. Look into the average asking price in your preferred location. It may help to create a non-negotiable list of things you simply must have in your new living situation. For example, if you have kids, you may need a home close to your children's school.

If you are going from a two-income household to a one-income household, take a hard look at the financial implications of staying in the home versus moving out. Be honest with yourself, and adjust your budget to weigh your options.

Who will the kids and pets live with?

If you have children or pets, moving out of the home you share with your spouse is more complicated. Hopefully, safety is of no concern, and you both can agree on who gets to live with your children or pets and on what schedule (if you’re sharing child custody). If not, the court will need to decide.

Some states even allow the court to decide custody of pets, should a couple be unable to agree.

Preparing to move out

After deciding that divorce is the best option, living separately from your ex feels like the natural next step. However, it may be wise not to rush or leave impulsively. 

Divorce is legally and emotionally complicated. As such, you'll want to plan your exit carefully. We recommend using our pre-leaving checklist to prepare. There are several possible consequences (namely financial penalties or losing legal rights) for moving out too hastily. You’ll also want to prepare if your ex prevents you from returning to the residence.

Dividing your stuff

Naturally, there will be some tough conversations about how to split up the belongings within the marital home.

While you can take personal items with you when you move out, be aware that most states consider all the items, assets, and debts you incurred during your marriage as shared property between you and your spouse. You will likely need to negotiate who gets what during the property division step in your divorce process.

Read: Askers vs. Guessers: The Power of Understanding Each Negotiation Style

Starting fresh in your new home

There are lots of things to consider at the beginning of your home search. For instance, it may be wise to apply for a mortgage preapproval to gain a better understanding of what you’re able to afford on your own. Having this information can give you an idea of where you stand, in a financial sense. From there, you can start attending open houses, contacting a real estate agent, and possibly putting offers down.

Figuring out your new single, post-divorce life will be your next great adventure. When you move into your new home, you get a chance for a fresh start. Discovering your new style and decorating your house to reflect this version of yourself will feel almost therapeutic. This is your new beginning! Soon, you can set forward on the path you choose with a home that reflects your tastes and becomes your retreat.


Senior Editor
Communication, Relationships, Divorce Insights
Melissa Schmitz is Senior Editor at Hello Divorce, and her greatest delight is to help make others’ lives easier – especially when they’re in the middle of a stressful life transition like divorce. After 15 years as a full-time school music teacher, she traded in her piano for a laptop and has been happily writing and editing content for the last decade. She earned her Bachelor of Psychology degree from Alma College and her teaching certificate from Michigan State University. She still plays and sings for fun at farmer’s markets, retirement homes, and the occasional bar with her local Michigan band.