Is It Okay to Move out of the Marital Home Before the Divorce is Finalized?


In a divorce, one or both spouses eventually leave the marital home. The question is whether there are any consequences if you move out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized.

Generally speaking, there is nothing wrong with moving out before you’ve finalized a divorce, but there could be consequences to consider. This article outlines your options so you can be informed before moving.

Divorce Requirements in Virginia

Virginia law requires a couple to be separated for at least six months (12 months if you have children) before filing for divorce proceedings. You can still live under the same roof during a separation, but you must sleep in separate rooms and avoid physical intimacy to meet the legal requirements.

For couples without adequate space or a relationship that is so contentious that peaceful coexistence is impossible, someone is bound to want to leave to preserve the peace and begin the process of moving on.

What About the Marital Home?

When one partner moves, there are different considerations based on whether the marital home is subject to a mortgage or a lease. If one spouse leaves a mortgaged home, they still have a property interest if the house is marital property.

If the exiting spouse does not contribute to mortgage payments, it could diminish the percentage of the property interest when it comes to addressing property division. That factor alone is likely not enough to sway a decision to move, but it should be a consideration.

For couples renting property, the spouse who leaves should ensure that the remaining spouse is making rental payments. Both partners are legally responsible for the lease terms, and if the remaining spouse fails to pay the rent, it could be problematic for the spouse who moved to be approved for a future lease.

Desertion or Abandonment for Fault-Based Divorce

While most divorces in Virginia use the no-fault process, divorcing couples can still file for a fault-based divorce. Leaving the marital home could be considered abandonment if the deserting partner leaves without communication or household support. Again, this is only one factor to consider, but it’s a good idea to speak to a divorce attorney to understand how this could affect the divorce process.

One Reason You Should Definitely Move Out Before the Divorce is Final

While there are pros and cons to staying or leaving the marital home, the one time you should always move out is if there is domestic violence. If you or your children are in danger, property rights and fault grounds are secondary to your safety.

If you have children, you might be concerned that moving could affect your custody rights. Assuming there is no abuse, work with your spouse to have a visitation or custody agreement in place that is in your child’s best interest.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Family Law Attorney

Couples face several issues during a divorce, and a divorce attorney can protect your best interests. Contact the experienced attorneys at DiPietro Law Group at (888) 530-4374 for a consultation.

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