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Advice for Moving after Divorce

May 30th, 2013 - 8:18 AM

I’m getting divorced and moving out of state…where do I start?

That’s a good question, and one that a lot of people are faced with. This can be a tough time, and there’s a lot to think about when you’re moving after a divorce, so I’ve put together some tips and advice to help you navigate through the transition and into your new phase of life.

Getting to know your state’s divorce law

Because each state has unique divorce laws, it’s important to check with your attorney about laws specific to your state so that you know your rights and options. For example, if you have children, your attorney will be able to cover child custody and support options specific to your state. If you need more information about divorce law where you live, you can find more information here.

Dividing up the property

Some divorcing couples choose to divide the property themselves instead of leaving the decision up to a court. Depending on your situation, you can divide the property with your spouse, or submit a property dispute to the court if you cannot agree about how the property should be divided.

Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are the only states that have community property law, meaning that all property acquired during the marriage is equally divided between the husband and wife.

The remaining 41 states practice “common law” property division, which means that if your name appears on the ownership document or title of the property, you are considered the owner.

You’ll want to consult with your attorney to identify what you are entitled to when it comes to dividing property.

Figuring out what to do with your belongings if you move into a smaller home

Many times people going through a divorce downsize to a smaller home. If you’re moving to a smaller home, you may want to consider donating the items you don’t have room for, selling them in a garage sale, or putting them in storage until you can take the time to decide whether or not to keep them. Here are some helpful tips on how to have a great garage sale and things to donate when moving. Here’s another piece of advice from divorce care experts: If there are belongings that cause you emotional pain, it may be better to let them go, regardless of value.

Choosing how to move your belongings

Choosing a reputable, affordable out-of-state moving company is key to making your move successful. If you’re looking for a hands-off approach, full-service is an option, but it can get expensive quick. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, this may not be the best option. If you’re looking to save some money by doing the work yourself, truck rental may be an option, but getting your personal vehicle to your new home becomes an issue (not to mention driving a large unfamiliar truck across the country). A very popular option for people moving on a budget who don’t want to drive is a “you pack, we drive” moving company. It’s the best of both worlds. Remember, price is important, but so is service. Click here to learn more about researching moving companies.

Moving with kids

Before you move, check with your attorney to see if there are any geographical travel restrictions on you or your spouse’s ability to relocate your children. Typically, the court will decide what is in the child’s best interest and make their decision from there if the two parents cannot come to an agreement on the move.

If you have more questions on moving after divorce with children, this is a good resource. It includes things like how to talk around your kids and how to make them feel like they are the priority throughout the divorce.

If you’re moving with kids, you can read more about how to find the best school district in your area here.


Looking for a new home

A new home can be the fresh start you’re looking for. By making a list of your wants and needs for your new home, you can stay focused on the necessities and what would just be a nice to have. Here are some great tips to begin your home property search.

Another tip if you plan on buying a new home is to find out how much it will cost to maintain the property and what property taxes are for the area. If you plan on renting, check to see that your rental agency or landlord has good maintenance procedures in place.

Of course, choosing a safe, well maintained neighborhood is important. Read more about what to look for in a new neighborhood here.

Preparing for the move

Here are some helpful tips for preparing for the actual move:

  • Ask friends and family to help you get ready for your move. They can help you pack, run errands, or watch your kids. They may be glad to help out during this stressful time.
  • Depending on your situation, you may want to schedule the packing and loading when your ex-spouse is not at the home.
  • Have your mail forwarded to your new home address by filling out a Change of Address form online at USPS.com or for free at your local post office.
  • Use a printable Moving Checklist to help you stay on track before, during, and after your move.
  • Gather records (medical, school, dental, vet, etc.), notify subscriptions and billers of your new address, and have your utilities transferred and put in your name.
  • If you plan on changing your name, check with the court in the county where you live because each state varies in its requirements to change names.
  • Update your driver’s license, voter registration, and vehicle registration.

If you have detailed questions about your rights and responsibilities when you’re moving after a divorce, we recommend contacting your attorney for legal advice. And if you need support or you want to find ways to get connected with others in your new town who have also gone through divorce, check out resources like divorcecare.org or DivorceCare for Kids.