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January First: An Ideal Move-Out Date for Divorcing Spouses in North Carolina?

For many North Carolina residents, the New Year represents a fresh start. Although one might argue that January 1 is an arbitrary date, it is nonetheless an ideal starting point for many important life changes. What better time to begin anew than the beginning of a new calendar year? Some spouses might have already initiated the separation process, and they might be wondering whether January 1st represents a smart time to move out of the family home. Is this really the right choice?

Why Many Spouses Move Out on January 1

Moving out of the family home on January 1st may be a popular choice among spouses because it sets a clear and convenient date of separation. Your date of separation represents the legal end of your relationship (but not the end of your marriage).

Why is the date of separation important? Because from this point forward, all of the assets and liabilities you acquire are “separate property.” In other words, you get to keep the property that you acquire after the date of separation – and you are responsible for any debts you incur.

In the eyes of the North Carolina family courts, your date of separation represents the moment that you and your spouse become financially independent from one another. Moving out is a clear sign that you are no longer splitting bills, jointly paying rent, and so on. Moving out also suggests that spouses no longer think of themselves as “together.”

Why is January 1 a convenient date to initiate your date of separation? The obvious answer is that it makes taxes easier. If your date of separation begins on January 1, filing your taxes in the following year may be easier. If you file at another date, part of the year will represent your financial activities as a married couple – while the other portion will represent your activities as a separate individual

You may need to discuss this situation in more detail with your tax professional or a qualified divorce lawyer who has experience with complex asset division. Each spouse’s tax situation is slightly different, and some may find it advantageous to separate on certain dates due to their unique circumstances. As a general rule, however, moving out on January 1 could streamline your taxes.

In addition, moving out on January 1 simplifies the mandatory one-year separation period to some extent. In North Carolina, you must remain separated from your spouse for 12 months before you can move forward with your divorce. A move-out date of January 1st creates a clear-cut separation period of exactly one year, and you can proceed with your divorce from the date of the following new year. While this is a somewhat minor benefit, it nonetheless ensures that everyone is on the same page while reducing potential confusion.

Finally, January 1 represents an obvious move-out date due to purely emotional factors. For many spouses, it might seem difficult to pack their bags and leave their family home behind. January 1st may help them make this major life decision due to its association with New Year’s resolutions, fresh starts, and new beginnings.

Speak With a Lawyer Before You Move Out

While moving out is a positive choice for many spouses, you should consider discussing this major decision with a qualified divorce lawyer before you move on. Moving out of the family home may have unforeseen consequences for your divorce. For example, you may struggle to maintain ownership of the family home if you voluntarily leave it behind. Remember, North Carolina is an equitable distribution state – and the family court may consider a number of factors when deciding who should maintain ownership of the family home. Courts may determine that the spouse who stayed in the family home “needs it more,” and this could have major implications for property division outcomes.

Finally, moving out of the family could affect your custody battle. If you leave your children behind with your ex in the family home, you may encounter challenges as you fight for your custody rights at a later date. In addition, the spouse who remains in the family home with the children could find it easier to remain in the property. Family courts often determine that it is in a child’s best interests to remain in a familiar family home to limit the psychological shock of moving out.

Find a Qualified Divorce Attorney in North Carolina

If you have been searching for an experienced divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses throughout the Tar Heel State, including those who need help with important questions regarding separation. Moving out on January 1 might be a solid plan, but an online article cannot give you a clear answer. For targeted advice based on your unique situation, consider booking a consultation at your earliest convenience.