Forcing a Spouse Out of the Family Home

Forcing a spouse out of the family home is not as simple as saying I want to separate:  move out according to Annapolis, Maryland family law.

Question: Can a titled spouse evict a non-titled spouse out of the house during the pendency of a divorce?
So the short answer to the question posed is that generally a title holder of a house can evict a non-titled spouse. However, to do so, the titled spouse will have to file certain legal petitions with a Maryland district court. And despite the fact that a non-titled spouse holder does not have a right to possession of the house, a Maryland district court judge may decide not to permit an eviction – which may necessitate the filing of an appeal. And to those who are frustrated by the legal process, self-help might prove equally unhelpful. Few police departments will involve themselves in a domestic dispute regarding the possessory rights of spouses in a divorce case without a court order to shield them from claims of improper arrest and the civil liability associated with it.

This week’s Wednesday question and answer highlights one of the difficulties of exercising and enforcing one’s legal rights in a civil action, especially one that touches upon issues of family law. The problem is that a party can have all the rights on the books but can still be practically denied those rights because the legal process at times is too confusing, too slow, too costly, and subject to human error, such that some parties simply throw in the towel and settle for something far less than what they are entitled to.

Believe it or not, family law practitioners and judges are aware of these problems and are trying to make administrative changes that will simplify the process and speed up the administration of justice. However, some of the changes needed are only going to be solved with legislative action. It is important that we all engage our local legislators and express our priorities and concerns.

It is better not to take steps forcing a spouse out of the family home without conferring with a Maryland family law attorney.

Family Home and Living Separately

The family home and living separately dramatically impact a grounds for divorce:

Living Separately, Continuously Apart in separate places of abode for over one year is the most common grounds for divorce put forth by family law attorneys in the Annapolis, Maryland divorce court.   That sounds simple enough.  But, sometimes financial circumstances have an impact on the grounds for divorce.   People often think that if you are living in separate rooms in the family home you are “living separately.”  It is not that simple.

If you have been following my posts over the last several months you know that in order to file for divorce the parties must be living separately (i.e. no longer residing in the same house). This can prove a big challenge to parties who want to start the divorce process but do not have the money to move out and set up a separate household. Then of course the next decision is which party should incur the effort and expense of moving. When parties jointly own a home there is virtually no legal action that one party can take against another in order to force one party out of the house except in the case where the issue of domestic violence or other threatening or harassing conduct is implicated. However, the legal analysis is different when only one spouse holds title to the house.

Rights to the Family Home are not Forfeited by Leaving the Home

Moving out of the family home does not result in outright forfeiture of the home.  You need to confer with your Annapolis, Maryland attorney before you move.  There are consequences to moving although you do not give up your rights to the house.

A court has the discretion to award up to three years of use and possession of the family home to a spouse with custody of minor children.  While moving does not result in outright forfeiting of the value of the family home. if you move out, it makes it much, much more difficult to convince a court to award you use and possession of the home.

But, your rights to the home or part of its value are not impacted by who moved out of the house.  The important this is when the property was acquired.  In general, if it was acquired during the marriage except by gift or inheritance, it is marital property.  In the vast majority of cases, its value is divided between the spouses.

You need to take steps very carefully after considering all of the aspects of a move.  Moving could impact other parts of your family law case.  It could have an effect on when you could force the sale of the home.  It could affect your obligation to support the family left in the home as well as the household expenses.  It could affect entitlement to alimony.  It could result in grounds for divorce.  If you move without the children, that could impact any future claim for custody.

It is important to properly plan for separation and divorce.  Part of that planning involves working with a Maryland attorney to develop that plan.