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7 Tips for Moving After a Divorce

Jon Fesmire | March 1, 2022 @ 7:53 AM

Divorces take months or more to go through, long after the couple no longer wants to or is even able to live together. Most of the time one will move out before the divorce goes through during the separation period.

If you’re the party moving out it can be especially tough. Your ex may or may not help you pack, and you’ll have to do the work of moving all your stuff out and finding a new place. Here are our tips for how to proceed.

Take Care of the Divorce Paperwork

Make sure you’ve begun the divorce paperwork before you move out. Consider talking to a lawyer. Some will recommend against moving out until the divorce is finalized, but if everyone is miserable in that situation, at least have the divorce started and the paperwork signed. In many states, the paperwork is binding even before it has completely gone through the system and you are considered officially divorced.

It’s possible that, if you don’t at least have the paperwork done, signed, and turned into the court, your ex could argue that you abandoned your family. Make sure you know how this works in your state and file any paperwork or make any statements you need to show that you did not abandon your family but moved out due to irreconcilable differences.

Find a New Home

The type of place you move into can vary greatly depending on your financial situation. You may temporarily move in with friends, rent an apartment, or even purchase a condo or house. Start your home search as soon as the divorce papers are signed and turned in to the court. You can use one of the many home-finding sites out there, like Zillow, Trulia, or HomeFinder, or work with a real estate agent.

Separate Belongings

Go through your personal and shared belongings and decide with your ex what you’re going to take. Try to make sure you each have things you need. If they won’t cooperate, the courts can help make ownership decisions. Set aside your belongings so you can pack them.


Usually decluttering just means getting rid of things you haven’t used in a while and don’t need. When ending a long-term relationship, it can also mean letting go of sentimental things related to your ex and your shared experiences, meaning letters, gifts, and so on. You may want to save some of those for your children when they grow up, but romantic letters and so on will just bring you down. Ending a relationship is tough, but holding onto stuff from the past can hold you back.

Hire Movers or Find Personal Helpers

Next, either book movers for a week or two out or ask some friends and family members to help you move. If you do the moving yourself, reserve a moving truck and pick it up on moving day.

Pick up the truck early, have your helpers come over in the morning, and put your boxes and furniture into the truck. We recommend having bottled water and snacks for your helpers and perhaps buying them dinner that evening after all your stuff is in your new place.

Pack Your Stuff

Of course, before moving day you’ll need to pack. Use mostly like-sized boxes. Small moving boxes or document boxes are excellent. They’re sturdy and can hold a fair amount of things.

A document box packed with books, for example, will be heavy, but not too heavy, and will hold the contents well. You can also fold or roll up clothing and a lot will fit in a single box.

Begin packing about 10 days before moving day.

Have a suitcase and a backpack for your essential items, so you can pack those last and bring them first into your new home. Make sure you have quick access to toiletries and medication when you get to your new place.

Label every box with the room it belongs in and a number, and if you have time, write down an inventory of what’s in each box. On moving day, make sure you and your friends put the heaviest boxes on the bottom of stacks in the truck and lighter boxes on top.

Settle In

Now that you have your own place, it’s time to unpack and decorate it to your taste. This is a time to rediscover yourself. If you have children, make sure their rooms are set up nicely, too, and involve them in the process of arranging their stuff how they want it.

Ideally, your kids will have a bedroom at each home, but if your new place doesn’t have a full room for each, make sure they have a nice space that is their own in a shared room or in the living room.

Rent Self Storage

While you’re preparing to move, if you think that it will take longer than a single day to get everything to your new place, consider renting a self storage unit. You can put your less-used things in there. That way, on moving day, you can move everything from your old home to your new one and pick up the stuff in storage over the next few weeks. If you’re not sure where to begin, check our listings, which cover the U.S. and Canada.

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