For most married and divorcing couples, the home you share with your partner is one of your most valuable assets. Its worth goes far beyond dollars and cents, though. You may have many memories and be emotionally tied to your home. The thought of losing your house, temporarily or permanently, can be quite distressing.
Like all marital property, the court overseeing your divorce will find a way to divide the home, or its value, between you and your soon-to-be ex. While your divorce is pending, your home does not usually sit vacant. The court has a couple of approaches available to decide who gets to stay in the home until the divorce is final.
Two Approaches to the Temporary Use of Your Home
When a divorce is filed, the court can enter several temporary orders covering various issues. These orders are meant to last until the final order of divorce is made and can be changed as the divorce goes on. Some of the issues that are commonly addressed through temporary orders include:
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child support
- Spousal support or alimony
- Orders to preserve marital property from destruction or sale
- Directives not to harass or threaten one another
The possession and use of the marital home are also frequently the subject of temporary orders. How the court decides to whom the home should go depends on the situation:
1. Where Both Spouses Agree
If you and your partner agree on living arrangements, the court will generally adopt them unless it has a good reason not to do so. It is important that you and your partner reduce any agreement regarding the home’s possession and use during the divorce to writing. This can help protect you in the event there are future disagreements.
2. Where There Is No Agreement
If you and your soon-to-be ex disagree on who should live in the home, the court will need to look at the facts of your situation more closely. The court will want to consider:
- The parent with whom any children will primarily reside, as the courts like to keep children in the home
- The resources of the spouses, as the court does not want to force one spouse into homelessness
- Whether there is any fear of abuse, as it may not be safe for one spouse to live in the home
After considering these and other factors, the court will enter orders awarding temporary possession and use of the home to one spouse or the other.
Securing Use of Your Home During Your Divorce
There is some advantage to filing for divorce before your partner does, but this alone does not determine who gets to stay in the house. Reaching an agreement with your spouse is the best option, but this is not always possible.
Having a skilled Michigan divorce lawyer on your side can help you seek temporary orders for the use of your home if you and your partner cannot agree.