Some people carefully plan their divorce and discuss every step of the process with their spouse. Other people blindside their spouses, filing divorce paperwork seemingly out of the blue and following through immediately with major changes to the financial and living circumstances of the family.
You may not have expected your spouse to file for divorce. You certainly never imagine that you would return home from work to discover they had changed the locks or boxed up all of your possessions and put them in the garage.
While you may have accepted the inevitable end of your marriage following this debacle, you may still feel strongly about wanting to protect your interest in the marital home or your right to stay there. Can your ex force you to leave and then keep the home in your divorce?
Possession is often a complex issue
Factors ranging from the actual ownership paperwork, custody agreements and allegations of domestic violence can influence the temporary possession arrangements during a divorce. In most cases, it is not legal or wise for one spouse to evict the other in the early stages of divorce.
If your spouse has changed the locks or otherwise pushed you out of your home, documenting that behavior and discussing it with your divorce attorney can help you decide the next step to take. Even if you don’t push to regain possession now, you don’t typically have to worry about losing your interest in the home.
Equitable distribution rules protect your rights
In North Carolina, equitable distribution rules govern litigated property division matters. If you and your ex don’t already have an agreement in place for the division of your property, a judge will look at a report of your assets and your marital circumstances to decide what is reasonable and fair.
Provided that you purchased the home during the marriage or used marital income for its purchase or maintenance, you will typically have at least a partial ownership interest in the home. A temporary loss of possession or moving out of the property will not usually affect your right to receive some of the home’s value in the divorce. Even if a judge lets your ex continue living in your marital home, they will likely need to refinance the mortgage so that they can pay you your share of the equity.
Being realistic about your home is crucial
Many people approach divorce proceedings with unrealistic expectations and then feel angry when the situation doesn’t go as they expected. Unless you have a marital agreement or clear financial records showing the home is your separate property, some form of sharing will likely be necessary when it comes to this incredibly valuable asset.
Learning more about the rules for real property division can help you prepare for your upcoming divorce.