Considerations before Moving Out of the Marital Home during a Pennsylvania Divorce

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When parties are not getting along and contemplating divorce, one of them may move out of the marital home to ease the tension. However, there may be important implications that arise when one of the spouses moves out. It is important for spouses to understand their rights and obligations during the divorce process. An experienced divorce lawyer can make sure that your rights are protected during this process.

Reasons Spouses May Move Out

Spouses may move out for a variety of reasons. For example, they may flee from physical or mental abuse. They may not want to be around their spouse after an incident of infidelity. They may have started making new moves toward a separate life and may move closer to new employment. They may simply feel claustrophobic in a home with a soon to be ex-spouse and may decide to leave.

Reasons Spouses May Want to Stay in the Home

Just like spouses may have many reasons why they leave, they may also have many reasons for why they want to stay. For example, they may not be able to afford to move. They may not be able to maintain two households on the same amount of income. They may want to try to pay off debt or pay for divorce-related expenses and not want to dwindle these funds when they have these other financial priorities. They may have parental obligations or concerns about parenting in separate households. Spouses should consult with independent legal counsel to ensure what is the best decision to make in their individual circumstances.

Establishing a Date of Separation

If one spouse does move out, this can help establish the date of separation. Typically, in divorce pleadings, financial implications change based on the date of separation.

Homeownership Rights

While you do not relinquish your rights to own or occupy the home, moving out might have an impact on how property is later divided in your divorce. Additionally, you have the same obligations to your home, such as paying the mortgage, keeping insurance on it and maintaining the property. If only one spouse will live in the home after the divorce, both parties are still obligated to the home until the home is refinanced or sold. Simply leaving the home does not extinguish your agreement with your lender.

Custody Rights
If a parent moves out of a marital home, his or her custody rights remain the same as they were before he or she moved out up until there is a court order that alters these rights. That means that both parents have the equal right to see their children. However, courts can consider the children’s living arrangements when making custody arrangements and are often seldom to disrupt their life unless there is good cause to do so. If a parent does decide to move out of the house, it is important that he or she stays in constant contact with the children to best protect their custody rights.

Returning to the Home

Even if a parent moves out, he or she generally has the same legal right to move back into the property because he or she has not relinquished property rights. However, if there was domestic violence, a spouse may seek an order of protection against his or her abuser, and if this order is made by the court, the abusive spouse may be required to move out of the shared home and stay out of it. Alternatively, a court may make a temporary order awarding one of the spouses possession of the home in certain cases.

Financial Considerations

In addition to the potential implications for property rights and custody determinations, it is also important to consider how moving out of the home will affect you financially. How much moving out affects someone financially depends on a number of different factors, such as whether or not they have children, whether they are paying a mortgage, how much alternative housing costs, resources available to them, their own earnings, their spouse’s earnings and other factors.

Contact a Family Law Lawyer for Assistance

If you are considering a divorce and want to know how moving out will affect your rights and your divorce, consider talking to a family law lawyer for assistance. He or she can explain the implications of moving out before you take this important step. He or she can also protect your interests throughout the divorce process.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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