Can I vacate my family home before ending my marriage?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Divorce |

Let’s face it, living under the same roof with someone when you’re no longer a couple can be awkward, to say the least. Things can become even more difficult if the relationship is untenable and you have decided to end the marriage via divorce.

One of the questions couples grapple with during divorce is whether they should leave the marital home before finalizing the process. Legally speaking, nothing prevents you from leaving the home before completing your divorce. However, it’s important to understand the consequences that may result if you opt to leave.

Divorce requirements in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania laws require couples to be separated for at least 12 months to divorce per the grounds of mutual consent. You can still share the same home during the separation period. To meet the legal requirement for divorce on mutual consent, however, you cannot be intimate during this period. If you do not have adequate space or if the relationship is so strained that coexistence is not possible, either party is bound to want out to preserve the peace.

What leaving could mean for you

If one party leaves the home, different considerations come into play depending on the ownership of the property. If the home is in one spouse’s name because they owned it prior to the start of the marriage, the other party may not claim a broad interest in it during property division negotiations (beyond income invested in improvements, etc.). However, if the home is mortgaged or leased, and both parties’ names are on the property, the leaving spouse will still be obliged to keep their end of the bargain. For instance, they will be responsible for their portion of the rent or mortgage payment owed each month unless temporary orders are requested and alleviate that spouse of their obligation until the case is resolved.

It may be absolutely necessary to leave

While staying in the marital home during the divorce has its pros and cons, there is one time when you should definitely move out; and that is if there is violence. If your spouse is violent or threatening violence against you and your children, you need to seek shelter elsewhere, at least temporarily before obtaining an order of protection that may allow you to move back in while your spouse moves out.

Protecting your rights

Divorce can be a very difficult undertaking, both emotionally and financially. Learning more about Pennsylvania divorce laws by speaking with a legal professional can help you protect your rights and interests before, during and after the divorce process.

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