Two wedding rings sitting in a puddle of water

If We Get a Divorce, Do I Have to Move Out?

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. Sept. 15, 2020

Divorce is one of the most disruptive events in the lives of spouses and their children. Even in the most amicable divorces, things are irretrievably lost, like the home they had built a life in.

Who gets to remain in the family home and who has to go isn’t always a simple matter. The person who leaves during separation isn’t necessarily giving up the home forever. Likewise, the person who stays in the home on their own or to take care of the kids doesn’t necessarily get to remain there.

Divorce is an incredibly stressful and disorienting process under the best of circumstances. You need an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interest in your home and the best interests of your children.

For more than 15 years, Allegheny Attorneys at Law has been providing that experience and guidance to clients in Pittsburgh and surrounding Pennsylvania communities. If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers and are unsure about your living arrangements, I can help.

Considerations About Moving Out

There are three major areas to consider in making your decision, and in the court’s decision-making process, about the family home.

  • Safety. If you are being abused by your spouse, or your children are, safety is paramount. You can ask the court for a protective order that forces the abusive spouse out of the house. But if that’s going to take time, you need to remove yourself from the home immediately. You should also get the court’s permission to remove your kids if they’re in danger to avoid accusations of kidnapping. If you or your kids are in an abusive situation, call a family law attorney immediately.

  • Comfort. Even if a divorce is amicable, it’s tough for spouses to reside in the same home during or following divorce. If the situation is too uncomfortable, one spouse will need to move somewhere else, even if only temporarily.

  • Children. In any divorce, the utmost concern is for the best interest of the children. With all the upheaval children endure during divorce, being able to remain in their home is one constant they can take comfort in. The court will advocate for kids remaining in their homes until a divorce and parenting agreement is finalized.

Options for Living Arrangements After Divorce

The parties will need to agree on living arrangements or the court will decide. Options may include:

  • Both spouses could agree to stay in the home. This arrangement is undoubtedly easier if it’s a large house. If it’s a small one, it could be uncomfortable to live under the same roof.

  • The parties could agree to sell the home and divide the proceeds per the divorce agreement. They would each then find alternative places to live.

  • Another option is to allow the kids to remain in their home and have the parents shuttle between residences instead. Called “bird-nesting,” this option would require that each parent have a place to live when it’s the other parent’s turn to spend time with the children.

The Person Who Stays Doesn’t Necessarily Get to Keep the House

The old saying that “Possession is 9/10 of the law” isn’t necessarily true when it comes to homeownership and divorce. The spouse who remains in the home for whatever reason – safety, comfort, or for the benefit of the children – doesn’t necessarily keep the house.

Not only is the home a highly sentimental place, but it’s also an asset – often the largest asset a couple possesses. Because it is, the house will be part and parcel of the division of assets in a divorce agreement.

Working with Allegheny Attorneys at Law

Living arrangements during and after divorce are complicated by the children’s best interests and by sentimentality. Facing the reality that money that used to support a single household will now need to support two is daunting to most couples. You need an attorney on your side to help you see things more clearly. One who understands both your attachment to your home and the legal and financial reality of keeping it.

At Allegheny Attorneys at Law, I have represented dozens of clients over the years who lived in homes in Pittsburgh, Fox Chapel, Penn Hills, Aspinwall, Oakmont Borough, and Shaler, Ross, O’Hara, and Indiana Townships in Pennsylvania. I guided them through the divorce process and helped them fight for the well-being of their future and their family.

If you are thinking about divorce or have been served divorce papers, call my office today to schedule a consultation so we can get started.