Leaving the Marital Home

Experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer explains your rights and responsibilities when leaving the marital home during a divorce in Arizona.  

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One of the questions that we’re often asked in the context of marriage is should I stay in the house with the other party while the divorce is proceeding.  I believe that out of all of the questions that can be asked of a lawyer in the context of counsel, this is one of the most difficult questions I really believe that can be asked of a lawyer because there are so many moving pieces that have to be considered in answering should I stay in the marital residence or not.  The first thing that you have to look at is safety.  If there is a situation in the home where there is abuse, be it physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, those are personal considerations that are personal the individual.

I would never tell anyone to stay in a marital residence if they’re being abused in any type of way.  Your personal security and safety is of great importance to us as a law firm.  It should be to any lawyer that would be representing you in a family law matter.  If your safety is at risk, I would advise you to consider being elsewhere while the divorce proceeds.

That doesn’t mean that you lose any interest in the house that is owned or anything.  The interest that you’ve acquired in the house would remain, whether you’re living in the house or not.  Most of the time, vacating the marital residence becomes an issue prior to divorce being filed if someone has vacated the marital residence for some period of time.  That’s the thing first thing, is your safety.

The second thing is that if the marriage involves children. In some states they call it custody; in Arizona, we call it decision-making responsibility, as it relates to the children.  Where the children are; they’re safe if the two parties can live in the house together while going through the divorce, for the sake of the children.  Oftentimes, this looks good in front of the court because there are certain factors that the court is going to look at when it comes down to parenting time and decision-making responsibility.  The children, are they safe?  Is there a lot of bickering going back and forth because the well-being of the children takes priority?

The third area I would certainly advise anyone to look at is the financial resources of the parties, based on the standard of living.  If you’re used to living in a mini mansion in Scottsdale and you’re leaving the marital home and the other party is the sole breadwinner and you have no resources to move, well you’re not used to living in a Motel 6 or an extended stay.  These are all things that you have to consider.  The financial resources, of course, do not outweigh your safety and security.

Some of it can be addressed with temporary orders from the court, should you have to leave the marital residence and one party is the dominant breadwinner.  The court can issue temporary orders, temporary spousal maintenance, temporary child support, to make sure that you have enough resources to provide for yourself, should you have to leave the marital residence.  This is something that you would certainly want to talk with your lawyer about.

It’s important that your lawyer is not only interested in the legal matters and underpinnings of the court, but they have an understanding and a grasp of life, and that this is your life, it’s your family, it’s your children.  This is where you’ve raised your children.  Someone that is empathetic and sympathetic to the entire situation that could counsel you accordingly.  An experienced compassionate attorney that cares about their clients would do just that.

If you are considering divorce and have questions about leaving the marital home, I would urge you to speak with one of our lawyers, or some lawyer that could walk you through that process with a great degree of grace and wisdom, but also representing you as it relates to the law. Call today for a free consultation.