One of the key decisions during the divorce process is determining who will remain in the marital residence. During the divorce, both spouses have the right to stay in property that is rented or owned jointly, unless the court has ruled otherwise. In many cases, the couple is able to reach an agreement regarding who will vacate the residence. However, if a mutually satisfactory arrangement cannot be made by the couple, then the court may enter an order for Exclusive Possession of the marital residence. An exclusive possession order requires one of the spouses to remove themselves from the marital residence during the divorce process.

Exclusive possession can only be granted following the completion of two other actions:

1) The divorce complaint must be initiated before exclusive possession can be requested by either spouse.

2) An evidentiary hearing must be held by the court before exclusive possession can be granted.

In some cases, such as when one party leaves voluntarily, exclusive possession is granted quickly and easily by the court. Otherwise, one spouse must prove the living situation is intolerable before the court will grant exclusive possession. The court does factor in the rights of the non-resident spouse, and exclusive possession orders are not permanent decisions.

Often, during the initiation of a divorce, one party is inclined to leave the residence quickly. However, this is a significant decision and you should consult with your Montgomery County divorce lawyer prior to vacating the marital residence. My experience with family law in Montgomery County enables me to be your leading advocate in Exclusive Possession and all other aspects of divorce.