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Is It Okay To Move Out of the Marital Home Before the Divorce Is Finalized?

In most cases, you don’t want to move out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized. However, Maryland is a little different from many states. If you can’t file a no-fault “divorce by mutual consent,” you and your spouse may need to live apart for a 12-month separation to file a divorce based on a one-year voluntary separation.

Separation vs. Abandonment

One of the grounds for an at-fault divorce includes desertion or abandonment. The conditions for desertion include:

  • 12 months of uninterrupted separation
  • The abandonment must be deliberate and final
  • No expectation of reconciliation

These conditions are very similar to those of legal separation before filing a no-fault divorce. However, the court will likely not see a 12-month separation with little to no contact as desertion if a spouse decides to move out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized for a legitimate reason, such as domestic violence or emotional abuse.

How Maryland Manages Property Division of Marital Property

Maryland divides all marital property based on “equitable distribution,” or what the court believes to be fair for each spouse. The court considers several factors in determining an equitable distribution of property, including:

  • Contributions by each spouse to the family
  • Earning capacity and current finances of each spouse
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • How certain assets were acquired, and at what stage of the marriage
  • Whether either spouse contributed separate property now owned together as tenants by the entirety
  • The age and health of each spouse

The court will consider these factors to determine whether either spouse holds a larger claim to the family home if the couple doesn’t have children. If the couple does have children, the court will consider additional factors like custody and time sharing between parents.

Moving out of the family home could diminish your claim if you don’t take your children, but refusing to leave your children could make it impossible to divorce if your spouse won’t leave and won’t agree to a divorce by mutual consent.

What if You and Your Spouse Have Minor Children?

Courts try to make determinations for child custody and child support based on the best interests of any minor children you and your spouse have together. If you leave your children in the marital home when moving out for a pre-divorce separation, you could face several challenges in being awarded primary custody and the marital home.

If you have minor children and can’t negotiate with your spouse to leave your shared marital home, discuss your options to move out with an experienced family law attorney.

Are You Trying To Move Out of Your Marital Home for a Divorce? Contact a Maryland Divorce Attorney First

The experienced divorce lawyers at Jimeno & Gray, P.A., can help determine whether you may move out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized. Moving out doesn’t mean the court won’t award you the home in an equitable property division. Call 410-590-9401 or fill out the convenient online form to schedule a consultation with a divorce attorney in Glen Burnie, MD.

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