Top 5 Things to Keep in Your Move and 5 Things to Ditch

5 things to keep in your move and 5 things to ditch

Here’s what to keep in your move to make your newly single life easier than ever

Life after divorce can be an overwhelming time, especially if you have to move out of your current home or apartment. If you’ve been with your ex-spouse for a long time, it might even feel like you’ve forgotten how to move out on your own. Luckily, we’re here to break down the most important things you should keep when moving out after your breakup, and the things you can leave behind. 

Which items do you legally get to keep in a divorce? 

First– what do you legally get to keep in your divorce? Do you have to split your things 50/50? How do you determine who gets to keep what? The short answer: it’s complicated.

To understand what belongings you can or cannot take with you after a divorce, you need to know the difference between your separate property and marital property

Any of your belongings you acquired before your marriage is considered separate property. These belongings are 100% yours, and you are well within your right to take them with you in a divorce. Anything that was purchased after your marriage, though, is generally considered marital property. 

Just because something you own is considered marital property doesn’t mean you can’t take it with you after your divorce. Marital property does need to be legally divided between the two of you in court, however. This is why it’s a good idea to wait until your divorce is finalized to move out of your home, if it is safe for both of you to do so. 

If you can’t wait to move out on your own, that’s okay. You will not be breaking any laws by taking some of your shared marital property. If any of what you take is awarded to your ex-spouse in court, however, you will be legally obligated to return it

How to move out after divorce

Nobody likes having to pack up all their belongings and move, and it can be especially taxing during a divorce. There are a few things you can do to make the entire experience less overwhelming, so we’ve developed a newly-divorced moving out checklist to ease that burden. 

Here are a few things that can make your move much easier:

Communicate with your ex

We know– with all the turbulent emotions that come up during divorce, the idea of sitting down and having a conversation with your ex might sound unbearable. It can be beneficial for both of you, though, to do your best to communicate civilly with each other throughout and after your divorce. 

If it is safe for you to do so, try being as open and honest as possible with your ex-spouse about your move. This way, you can both take stock of which belongings each of you will take and plan your move together, which will take a lot of the stress of both of you.

Make note of your property 

Whether you’re on good terms with your ex-spouse or not, it’s important to take note of your personal belongings. Especially if you must move quickly and leave things behind, this will ensure that you have a record if anything goes missing. It will also help you determine which living essentials you already have, and what you will need to buy for your move. 

Make copies of important documents 

You’ll need various documents to complete your divorce legally, and a lot of this is easy to accidentally leave behind when you move. Before you start packing up and moving out, it’s a good idea to locate any of your important documents and make copies for yourself. 

This way, you’ll always have a backup in case anything happens to the originals, and you won’t have to contact your ex unnecessarily for information if you already have your own documents. 

Start a divorce gift registry 

Even with a house full of stuff, you’ll still need quite a bit of new belongings to make a new home for yourself after your divorce. You’ll likely have many friends and family reaching out to you during this time who want to help– let them! A divorce gift registry is a simple way to let those who care about your help out, without directly giving you money, which can feel uncomfortable. 

What to keep in your move

You can view an entire packing-essentials list, but do you really need to bring all those things with you from your current home? Probably not. 

When it comes to moving on your own after divorce, here are the top 5 things to keep:

1. Keepsakes and family heirlooms

These items are truly irreplaceable, and you will likely regret getting rid of important mementos that mean a lot to you. 

2. Family photos

Again, though some of your family photos may now have some negative emotions attached regarding your divorce, they are still valuable. Your photos may be the only record you have of many happy times and milestones in your life, and they can be easily packed and brought with you in a move. 

3. A capsule wardrobe 

You don’t need to bring all your clothes when you move, if you are trying to pack light. Developing a capsule wardrobe from your current clothes can help you determine which pieces you should keep, and what you can sell or donate. 

4. Helpful tools 

Having a toolkit, or even a few maintenance tools, can be a lifesaver when you’re living on your own again. Tools can get pretty pricey, too, so if you already have them, why not bring them? 

5. Expensive gadgets and/or appliances

A nice vacuum, coffee maker, and other cleaning and kitchen appliances are all great to bring with you because they are pricey to buy again, but can last you a long time after your move, so they’re worth making room for. 

Items you can leave behind in your move.

What to leave behind in your move:

1. Clothes that no longer fit 

If you can’t currently wear something, it’s likely not worth it to bring along, unless it has an especially meaningful connection to you. 

2. Easily-replaceable items 

Anything small and cheap enough to buy in a single grocery store or Target run probably isn’t worth the effort of packing up and bringing with you in your move. 

3. Bedding & pillows 

Not only is bedding easy to replace, but do you really want the same set that you shared with your now-ex? Probably not. Getting some fresh bedding and pillows can help you make your new place your own and help you get off to a fresh start. 

4. Loose papers 

You’ve already copied your important documents, so you know which papers are and are not important. If you’ve been holding on to random pieces of paper and junk, as we all do, now is the time to let it all go. 

5. Old books and DVDs

Books and DVDs take up a lot of physical space and can really weigh you down in a move. Even if you are a book-lover or DVD collector, you could likely spare a few titles that you no longer need in your collection. 


Moving out after your divorce doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sounds. With a game-plan and a divorce moving checklist, you will be well on your way to transitioning into your new home. Here at Divorcist, we are passionate about helping new singles navigate their post-divorce life, and we hope this checklist has helped.

Check out our blog for more helpful resources on life after divorce, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter so you never miss an update!