Should You Live Together During a Divorce?

July 18, 2022

One of the most common questions asked during a divorce is: should I leave the marital residence? For every case, it will depend on the situation.

Committing Abandonment

It is a common misconception that if you leave the marital residence, a spouse will be found to have committed “abandonment.” The phrases “willful abandonment” or “marital abandonment’ are often used, which means a party has left their spouse with no intention of returning to the marriage or contributing toward the care of the other. In certain states, “abandonment” is grounds for divorce or permits a spouse from gaining a financial advantage over the other. This does not exist in Ohio; however, there are practical considerations if you move and live separate from your spouse.

Marital Equity

Even if you leave the marital residence and do not financially contribute toward the mortgage or related expenses, you will still be entitled to your share of the marital equity. In addition, if you leave the marital residence, you will be entitled to your portion of the household goods and belongings remaining in the home. The court will order that neither party remove nor dispose of property during a divorce. On a practical note, most parties do not have a full inventory of their household goods and belongings in the marital residence. Therefore, if a spouse destroys or removes an item, it is hard to prove in court. The court will permit you to re-enter during the divorce to get your property, however, your spouse may remove them or dispose of them prior to reentry. It will be your job to prove you left the items behind and that you were entitled to them. It is advised that at the time you leave the marital residence, you take your desired belongings and household goods.

Temporary Financial Support

During a divorce proceeding, the court can order one party to pay the other temporary support. If the parties are still living together, the court will not order temporary child support or spousal support. The court can issue an order allocating the marital bills between the parties, but support is not typically paid from one party to the other if the parties remain in the same residence. As a result, it may be beneficial for the parties to live together. Once the parties live apart, the court will order temporary support between the parties. It may take one to three months for an order to be issued. It is important for the parties to plan accordingly as they wait for the temporary support order.

Before Deciding, Consider All Factors

Each person needs to consider whether they can, or should, continue to live together during the divorce or dissolution proceedings. However, they especially need to consider their safety. Depending on the court, it is a high standard to request to remove the other spouse from the residence. A spouse must show there is danger and detriment to the parties or minor child(ren).

It is important to take into account all these factors when deciding whether to remain living together during a divorce. A spouse may leave the residence, whether for their preference or safety, and not be punished. However, it is important to document the property that is left behind in the marital residence and budget for your respective expenses.

Divorce is always challenging, even when it’s amicable. Separating finances, assets and personal lives isn’t easy, regardless of how long you were married or how many assets you have. That’s where we come in. If you need guidance on your divorce or other similar sensitive scenarios, please contact Carly Boyd (CBoyd@kjk.com; 216.736.754) or another member of the KJK Family Law Team.