Florida Family Law – If I Move Out of the Marital Home, Am I Abandoning My Family and Assets?

Marital-Home-300x205A question that commonly comes up in Florida Divorce consultations and cases is whether a client should move out of the marital home once one of the parties has filed for divorce. While many times spouses recognize that if there has been a divorce filing, eventually the time will come where they will no longer live together, this is a decision that should be made with planning and careful consideration.

The marital home is often the largest asset that the parties share, and its division in extremely important when considering how assets and debt will be allocated in a divorce case. In some cases, a spouse bought the house years prior to the marriage, or before even knowing the other spouse, in those cases, the house may be considered a non-marital asset. Conversely, many times, a home is purchased either right before or during a marriage, with the anticipation that the parties will live together as a married couple and ultimately a family, which would then make the house a marital asset.  In Florida, when a married couple buys a home, the property is held in a “tenancy by the entireties”. Only married couples can hold property in this manner, and the deed will reflect that the parties are married at the time of purchase, and that is how the property is deeded to the couple. Being married is a prerequisite to the property being held in this manner. When the parties divorce, the “tenancy by the entireties” is destroyed, and both parties are joint tenants of the property. In both cases, the parties own 100% of the property, but when the house is sold, equity is divided in half, unless special circumstances permit that a party is awarded a more significant share of the proceeds.

A Florida Family Law Lawyer can advise you as to your legal rights prior to and during a divorce proceeding.  Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. based in Jacksonville Florida has represented parties in divorce and post divorce proceedings since 1957.  At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., we are On Your Side – At Your Side.

By moving out, a party does not lose the legal interest or legal right to the property. In many cases, attorneys will recommend that a party moves out to avoid a heated exchanges with their spouse that could ultimately result in allegations of domestic violence, true or not.  Allegations of domestic violence that result in an injunction could have an impact on timesharing with the children and an award of at least temporary exclusive use of the marital home, the one thing that a party may be trying to avoid.  The term “abandonment” does not ultimately come in to play by the act of  simply moving out, but when a party refuses to assume responsibility for the financial contribution / payment for expenses related to children and assets, that is when abandonment may become an issue.

When parties consider moving out of the home, and children are involved, it is important to consider how this change will impact your children, their feelings, your time with your children, and the delegation of decision making on a daily basis about the children. Discussing these issues with an experienced family law attorney before moving and as a part of a pre-divorce filing consultation will help you to plan best how to address this type of situation so that you can start to work out property and time-sharing issues with your spouse in a positive direction.