When you plan to divorce, it seems obvious that one of you will need to leave the home. Sometimes one partner will feel like they need to move out as soon as the idea is raised, even if they don’t want to divorce. Other times, neither one wants to leave.
When should you move out? When do you absolutely have to leave? These questions depend on the individual circumstances, so it is a good idea to discuss the issue with your divorce lawyer. However, there are some general guidelines to consider in a Massachusetts divorce.
You Have to Obey Court Orders
The reason questions about the family home differ from case to case is that they generally depend on the orders issued by the court. If both spouses sign a separation agreement that includes provisions about the home, that agreement will have the force of a court order if it has been filed with the court.
If you signed it but did not get approval from the court, it is binding as a contract between the two of you, but doesn’t carry the power of a court order. When the court orders you to do something and you don’t obey, you can face fines and penalties.
Types of Court Orders That Can Affect Living in the Family Home
Often in the early stages of a divorce proceeding, the attorney for one spouse will file a motion with the court asking the court to grant them sole use and occupancy of the marital home.
The judge will examine the reasons presented in the pleadings and determine whether that spouse is justified in making the other spouse move out. If one spouse is granted sole occupancy rights, the other will be granted a reasonable amount of time to make arrangements and move their belongings. If this motion is granted, it will generally remain in effect until the divorce is finalized, and at that point, the terms of the final divorce settlement govern the use of the home.
Other types of court orders can be issued with immediate effect and little warning. If one spouse convinces the court that the other spouse poses a danger, they can get a restraining order or a vacate order. These orders must be obeyed immediately. They often remain in force for a shorter period of time but can be renewed.
The final divorce decree will include court orders covering various issues, and that usually specifies what will happen with the marital home. If the order says one or both parties must move out by a specific date or when a particular event occurs, it is important to follow that direction.
Your Attorney Can Help You Determine the Right Time to Move Out
Moving out too soon can harm your legal position as well, although not as drastically as failing to follow a court order. When one spouse moves out early, it can give the appearance that they don’t care about the home or children. It is a good idea to have your attorney prepare a written agreement that states that you are voluntarily relinquishing your right to live in the family home to keep the peace, protect the children, or whatever reasons seem best under the circumstances.
At Koiles Pratt Family Law Group, we understand how to protect your rights in all stages of the divorce process. We can help you make decisions about living arrangements in a way that gives you the best options moving forward. Call us for a confidential consultation to learn more.