Your house is probably the biggest asset that you bought while still married. It’s is also likely the most valuable asset that you share with your spouse. The marital home can often be a source of disputes during a divorce.
Each spouse may feel entitled to the home, which could lead to significant disagreements about how to handle property division. You obviously want to protect your interest in the house because of its value, but does that mean that you can’t move out and need to continue living with your ex unless they choose to leave your marital home?
Occupancy and ownership interests are not the same things
Living in your house is occupancy or possession of the property. You can have possession of the property without owning it through a rental agreement or own a property that you don’t occupy.
Your marital home will likely be your homestead, which means that you both own it and use it as your primary residence. If the space is big enough or you and your ex have good enough communication skills, it could be possible for you to peaceably cohabitate during your divorce.
However, moving out only ends your occupancy of the property, not your ownership rights or your interest in the property’s value.
Pennsylvania judges do their best to be fair
Equitable distribution is the legal standard applied when a couple divorces and requires assistance with the division of their property. A judge has to consider the marital circumstances carefully and then make a ruling based on what they think is fair given the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, their individual assets and even their health.
Typically, if your house is marital property, a judge will either give you a share of its equity even if you no longer live there or wish to live there. They could also determine what your amount of equity is and give you other assets worth that approximate amount.
Understanding your rights to your home and the basic approach for property division used in a Pennsylvania divorce can help you make decisions that benefit not just your legal circumstances but also your mental health.