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Who Moves Out When A Divorce Is Filed?

October 2, 2017

There is no clear cut answer for who is supposed to move out of a jointly owned home during a divorce. It is natural that the person filing may feel the instinct to move out first to cut down on conflict and tension, but this isn’t always what happens. When both spouses own a home together, it can be difficult to know who should move out of a home that they are both making payments on. Things can get very nasty very quickly unless good attorneys are there to sort through the mess.

Who should move?

Despite the fact that it might seem “fair” for the person who is filing for divorce to move out first, in fact that’s not always the way it happens and it’s definitely not in their best interests to do so. Moving out of the home before the divorce is final might cut down on fighting and discomfort for both spouses but it can be detrimental to the party who moves out. This is especially true if it’s the main earner who moves out.

Depending on what state you’re living in, a state can issue a “status quo order” that makes the main earner continue paying the bills on the house even IF they’re the one that has moved out. You don’t have to read that twice to figure out just how much this could hurt a primary earner who will not only move out and lose possession of the home but also be required to continue paying all the bills on the house as if they lived there.

Since the home is the biggest asset in the majority of divorces, it’s something that neither party should necessarily leave before everything is settled and both parties can reach an agreement as to who keeps the home and who will pay the bills on that home. Much of the time, good attorneys can hash the details out in a divorce agreement to the satisfaction of both parties. If one party moves out, though, this can be increasingly difficult to do, especially if the primary earner moves out first.

Neither party is required to leave the home automatically and both can stay until the divorce is final UNLESS there is another intervening issue (for example, domestic violence accusations or restraining orders) that prevents both parties from living under one roof. While lawyers for both parties will mediate and try to find agreement between both parties, it’s best to stay in the home in the interests of finances until the divorce is final. Once again, there are many reasons that one party or even both may decide to leave the home and in some cases it’s unavoidable. If one spouse has a restraining order against them, obviously they can’t stay in the same place as the other spouse.

Unless it is absolutely necessary to move out or you simply have no interest in keeping possession of the home, it’s best to remain in the home until the divorce is final. Nine times out of ten, it’s the courts who will determine who moves out first or who will remain in the home. Barring drastic circumstances, such as a history of domestic violence, sometimes couples can remain in the home together while they hash out their differences with lawyers.

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