To move out or not to move out, that is the question. You’ve made the decision to move towards ending the relationship. You’ve agonized, considered every possible resolution, but the only hope for happiness is to no longer be involved with your significant other. But the question remains: where do I go from here? Your first instinct might be to separate yourself from that individual, and in some cases (such as a volatile relationship where danger may be present) that may be the best route. In many circumstances, you may want to fight that first instinct.
You want to leave. You and your significant other have a child together. Nothing has been filed with the court. If you move out (separate) and leave without your child, that decision could have immediate ramifications that you had not initially envisioned and might not have considered. At the time of separation, neither parent’s rights to the child are paramount to the other. Thus, there is (of course absent any court orders to the contrary) nothing that prevents one parent from having the child, but there is also no order that forces the other parent to “allow” or more appropriately facilitate the visitation or time with the other.
Without orders or a case filed where you can ask for court orders, unfortunately what often happens is a parent moves out and then the other parent then refuses to facilitate any time with the child and had left the residence, you are left without recourse, having no case filed and nowhere to turn to for help. You, as the parent who moved out to try and be the separation, although having the best of intentions, have now been away from your child often for weeks or longer, by the time a case is filed. Then even when you commence a court case, it can often be weeks and in many cases months before you can get in front of a Judge to order any sort of parenting time, without agreement of the other parent, and by that point you may have gone all of this time with only seeing your children for brief time periods, or in even more grave scenarios, not at all. This can oftentimes be avoided by simply staying put until indeed there is a decision and order as to parenting time.
Given the uncertainty of each parent’s role and frankly the uncertainty that the other parent will continue to acknowledge your role in your child’s life, it often is best to simply wait. Wait to move out until such time as you have a parenting time agreement entered as a court order, that can be enforceable, otherwise, you do run the risk of giving up something that you can never get back–and that is precious time with your children.
This, of course, is a worst-case scenario, and absolutely every situation is different. This is certainly not in an attempt to force you to live in a volatile situation and it certainly is not meant to serve as advice or to explain what you must do in every situation. If you do want to discuss your case in particular, it is always best to consult with an attorney.
Furthermore, this does not presume that you and your significant other are not going to be able to work together as there are many parents who are able to successfully work together to parent their children. But, this is a situation that unfortunately is not all that uncommon, and can actually be avoided, by simply waiting to move out until you have a parenting time agreement. If the parties are eager to separate, that is even more incentive to work together to at least come up with an interim or temporary parenting plan, so you each are able to see your children until such time as you need either court intervention or are able to come up with a more permanent plan. At such an emotional time in your life, it is often hard to not make decisions based upon how we feel. The key in any situation when you have made the decision to separate is to think with your head, rather than your heart or taking any reflexive action, before making any decision regarding the ending of a relationship.
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