Help! We are divorcing! Will I get to keep the marital residence?


Help! We are divorcing! Will I get to keep the marital residence?

One of the harder parts of getting divorced is deciding who gets to keep the marital home. In Pennsylvania, both spouses have a right to live in the house even after the divorce complaint has been filed. Depending on your particular situation and circumstances, sharing the marital residence during the pendency of the divorce may work out. However, some divorces prove lengthy and contentious. In such cases, sharing the marital residence can be burdensome and difficult. 

Often times, people say that they want to keep the marital residence without thinking it through. Prior to fighting for possession of the marital residence it is a good idea to decide if you can actually afford to keep the house. Upon separation, the party that moves out of the marital residence is no longer on the hook legally for any portion of the mortgage. If you are the lower earning spouse, you may be eligible for support. However, you need to realistically assess whether that amount of support will enable you to cover the expenses of a mortgage, taxes, utilities and all the various the costs of maintaining the marital residence while enabling you to meet your day to day expenses. An experienced attorney can help you figure out what you can expect to make in support and, thereby, help you make the determination of whether you can afford the marital residence upon separation. 

If you do decide you want to stay in the marital residence post separation and do not want to wait until a divorce decree is entered to get sole possession of the residence, then there are some options available to you. First, the cheapest and sometimes most amicable option is to have a heart to heart with your ex and talk it out. It may be that he or she is willing to move out. However, if he or she refuses to leave and is making co-habituating unbearable, you 

may file a motion with the Court requesting an award of exclusive possession of the marital residence. In deciding whether to award exclusive possession of the marital residence, the court will look at whether the conditions are intolerable for a spouse or child. If you are being physically abused and feel in danger for your safety, you may file for a PFA. 

Regardless of who keeps the marital residence, if the home is owned in both persons names, then it will the spouse who remains in the residence will be forced to buy the other spouse out. This means that at equitable distribution, the spouse remaining in the residence will have to pay out a share of the equity in the home and any increase in the home’s value.  Be sure to reach out to an experienced attorney at LaMonaca Law to discuss your options. Click or call 610-892-3877

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About the author

About Jane Albrecht

Jane graduated Denison University where she was an active member of the History Honor Society. She obtained her J.D. from Emory University. At Emory, she interned for the EEOC. Upon graduation she worked at a public interest firm in Georgia. As a public interest attorney, she gained experience handling family law matters and working with clients through challenging times. Upon being admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, Jane worked at a family law firm in Bucks County before starting her own practice in Montgomery County. She handled divorces, custody issues, and other family law matters. Jane lives in Montgomery County with her two young sons and her dog. Having gone through the divorce process herself and navigating a co-parenting relationship, Jane brings a great deal of understanding to her role as a family law attorney.