If your marriage is ending, you may want to cut ties and start fresh by leaving the family home as soon as possible. As long as you are safe at home, however, staying there may provide legal benefits during divorce proceedings.

Consider these factors when determining whether to move out when you and your spouse are separating in North Carolina.

Child custody

If you plan to seek custody of your children, you should remain with them in the family home if at all possible. The judge makes custody determinations based on the child’s best interest, which often includes maintaining the status quo when a minor is happy, healthy and involved in his or her existing community. Often, the full-time caregiver for children is the spouse who stays in the home after divorce.

Safety

When domestic abuse is a factor, leaving the home temporarily is the safest step. In this case, you may request a protective court order that requires the abusive spouse to leave the marital home, then return after he or she is gone. If you have children with an abusive spouse, consult an attorney about seeking emergency temporary custody.

Property division

When a couple separates, they must support two households with the same amount of income that previously supported one household. Often, the spouse who earns more money will end up leaving the marital home for a less desirable living situation. He or she may have a financial obligation to continue supporting the spouse who stays in the home, especially if both partners are on the mortgage.

If you are in this situation, keep in mind that the state requires equitable division of marital property. The spouse who keeps the home must give up other property or buy out the other spouse to create an equal split.

Every situation is different when it comes to divorce. You may want to consult a family law attorney about the specific details of your case before making any decisions about moving out of your home.