As experienced family law attorneys, we get many questions from prospective and current clients about moving out of their shared home and their concerns about “abandoning” the home. As with any relationship, the answer is usually “it depends” but in reality, it’s important to realize that certain circumstances make the answer very simple, and courts quickly step in to help parties to deal with the temporary “split up” in the face of divorce.
Under Florida law, if you are married and residing in home that you purchased together, the marital home is a shared asset. Simply moving out of the house does not mean that you have abandoned the property. In instances where your ex spouse or potential ex spouse has been violent or threatened you with accusations (even false) of domestic violence that could have devastating impacts on your life, leaving the marital home is with good reason and would not result in you being viewed as an “abandoner.” In addition, courts recognize that when parties are going through a split up and tensions are high, getting out of the shared residence may be the best way for people to start working together to either co-parent or start the process of dividing to lead to resolution.
You do not lose your legal or property interest in the marital home, and while you should continue to make sure that the residence is continuing to be maintained, you can come to agreements with your separated spouse to divide the associated expenses to maintain the property. If you are “breadwinner” spouse or the spouse who traditionally has paid for the home, ensuring that you are maintaining the financial status quo while occupying another place to live, is a reasonable approach to continue consistency and showing your ongoing interest in the marital home.
Upon filing for a Florida divorce, the courts automatically enter a “Standing Family Law Order” that gives both spouses clear instructions how things should be dealt with in the pendency of the divorce. Along with many other considerations, one of the biggest is that the current financial status of bills, insurance coverage, and other financial considerations should be maintained as they had during the marriage. Just because you split up does not mean that you get to either kick one spouse of their home or financially cut them off, and courts are quick to resolve these situations to ensure the safety and welfare of the parties and children involved.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to stay in the marital home, leaving the marital home and seeking to return, in many cases, causes issues that make executing these plans difficult. As a shared marital asset, you have equal rights to the home as your spouse, and neither spouse has an ultimate right to home so long as both parties are listed on the deed. Understanding your rights and how the court will ultimately decide how interests, assets, and debts will be divided is best to discuss with an experienced family law attorney, so that you can plan how to meet your priorities through this process.
Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. has served the residents of North Florida in family law cases since 1957. Get the family law attorneys at Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. On Your Side – At Your Side.