Should I move out of my house during a divorce?

Should you move out of the marital home during a contentious divorce? I'm asked this question during 95% of the free divorce consultations that I offer. I get it - no one wants to constantly be around their spouse when the decision to divorce has been made by one of you.

What are the reasons to stay in the marital home?

  • You're more likely to have items of personal property go 'missing' if you leave the property in the marital home with your spouse.

  • Moving back into the marital home during a divorce proceeding can be incredibly awkward and conflict provoking, so if you leave, you should not anticipate resuming living there (unless the married parties attempt to reconcile).

  • You can ensure that routine and special maintenance is performed during a divorce proceeding to ensure that the value of the marital home remains intact.

  • You may not have the resources to realistically live elsewhere.

  • You may have the resources to realistically live elsewhere, but choose to remain to preserve those resources.

  • You wish to remain close to other people residing in the marital home, such as children or relatives.

  • You wish to remain close to pets that you cannot take with you.

What are the reasons to leave the marital home?

  • You believe you are at risk of domestic violence.

  • You believe your children are at risk of domestic violence.

  • You cannot co-exist with your spouse during a divorce proceeding, and have the means to leave.

  • You have another living accommodation available that will not prejudice your divorce case in other ways. (living with another romantic partner during a divorce is not advisable).

What are misconceptions that people often have about this topic?

  • People often mistakenly assume that the last person remaining in the marital home receives that asset from the Court during the equitable distribution of marital property. You do not waive your interest in the marital home by moving out.

  • I should pay rent to me, or demand that my spouse pay me rent, for residing in the marital home during a divorce proceeding. Do not do this! Not only is it unnecessary, but the Court will likely undo the payments in the process of equitably dividing the parties' marital property.

  • My spouse can kick me out of the marital home. Michigan's tenancy laws protect divorce litigants from being evicted without notice if they are not owners of the residence. Michigan property law states that married couples who acquire real estate while married are co-owners, unless they contracted between themselves to the contrary. Do not involuntarily move out, unless ordered by the Court!

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