Divorce proceedings can be challenging, particularly when it comes to the division of property. Determining how you will rebuild your life after the property has been split is a difficult process, one that may even begin before the divorce is finalized. One important aspect involved in the early stages of a divorce proceeding has to do with who will get to live in the marital house while the divorce is ongoing. Here, we want to discuss this sensitive topic, and we strongly encourage you to work with a skilled divorce attorney who can help you through the entire separation process.
Who Stays, Who Goes?
Legally, both parties will have equal rights to a house if both names are on the title. However, it is important to note that if the case involves domestic violence, it may be possible for one spouse to get a court order banning the other spouse from being in or near the house. Individuals in these situations would have to file for a restraining order or an order of protection with the local court.
Usually, both spouses are on the house title. If there is a situation where only one spouse’s name is listed on the title, this still will not necessarily mean that the individual gets to stay in the home. In an equitable distribution state like Pennsylvania, the other spouse’s contribution to the mortgage during the marriage could give them an interest in the home, though this will play more of a role while the property is being divided.
If both spouses are listed on the home’s title, they both essentially have equal rights. It is not uncommon for one spouse to offer a buyout of the remaining mortgage payments. However, this does not determine who gets to stay in the house during a divorce in Pennsylvania.
The reality is that if both spouses have equal rights to their home and neither spouse is willing to voluntarily leave during the divorce process, they will have to continue sharing the home together. Again, the only way to compel the other spouse to leave is if the home is considered absolutely separate property or if domestic violence has occurred and a restraining order gets obtained.
If one spouse will not leave and the other spouse is uncomfortable continuing to live in the house, they can choose to leave on their own. This will not forfeit either spouses’ rights to the home during the property division process. If one spouse does decide to leave their home and the other spouse obtains a financial benefit from staying in the house, this will be factored in when marital property is divided, and the spouse who left may get more property to compensate them for the fact that they were not able to stay in their home.
Working With an Attorney
If you are going through the divorce process, we strongly encourage you to speak to a skilled family law attorney who has extensive experience handling these types of cases. It may be possible for your attorney and your spouse’s attorney to arrange for mediation to determine who gets to live in the house while the divorce is ongoing. Divorce cases in Pennsylvania can become lengthy, and it is crucial for both parties to try to get through the process as comfortably as possible.