When a divorce is pending, a critical concern often arises: who gets to stay in the marital home? As a family law attorney in Florida, I frequently guide clients through the process of securing exclusive use and possession of their marital home during divorce proceedings. This post provides essential insights into navigating this complex aspect of divorce.
Ending a relationship is not easy though. Many things go through your mind. Throughout the years of practice, I’ve realized that some people chose to remain together in the home because they don’t know that they have options!
For example, some spouses may stay in the marital home while the divorce is pending because they feel as if they don’t have the financial means to move out. Others stay because they think that if they leave the home, it’s considered abandonment. Under no circumstances, however, should a spouse stay in an abusive relationship and/or home. There is no good reason to stay…especially if you have kids!
You are not alone. And you may never feel ready. But you must make the move. Trust me, it’s the first step towards a happy life.
Here are some ideas and tips that can help you take that first step:
If you feel like you can’t afford to leave:
Many people going through abuse, feel alone. Others may not have a place to go due to financial resources. In either circumstance, you can request the Court for exclusive use and possession of the marital home.
Don’t let money be the reason that keeps you in an abusive home or relationship. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can request the court for exclusive use of the home while litigation (your case) is pending.
Exclusive possession of the home is awarded when the Court perceives a need for it, most commonly to a spouse caring for minor children. You can ask the Court for exclusive use and possession of the home in the original domestic violence petition or by filing a motion in a case that is already pending.
Will my spouse be allowed to come back to the home while the injunction is pending?
If a temporary injunction is granted, your spouse will not be allowed to get near your home or place of business. If he or she does, you call the police immediately. Your spouse will most likely be arrested if he/she violates an injunction order, even if it’s temporary.
Your spouse may return to the home to retrieve personal belongings, but this must be arranged with you. What usually happens is the spouse requests the Court (through his/her lawyer or by motion) to return to retrieve his/her personal belongings. Said spouse must then come accompanied by the police to retrieve his/her personal belongings.
Do not contact your spouse if there’s a temporary or permanent injunction in place. Doing so will give the presumption that you are no longer in fear for your life.
What if there’s no abuse, but I can’t pay the bills on my own:
If there’s a divorce that’s pending, and you feel that you can’t afford to pay the monthly mortgage or rent payments, you can ask the court to maintain the status quo.
In Miami-Dade County, there’s an administrative order referred to as the status quo order which requires the parties to refrain from disrupting the norm established throughout the relationship, like who was required to pay the bills, who was supposed to pick up the kids, etc. So, if your spouse was the one that paid the monthly mortgage/rent, then he or she cannot stop paying until there’s another order from the court.
Remember, you can also as the Court for the exclusive use of the home even in cases where abuse is not present. You can request the Court to give you exclusive use and possession of the home while the divorce is pending. This request can also be made as a form of temporary support.
National Hotline for Domestic Violence: 800-799-7233
For Miami-Dade, Florida Domestic Violence Victim & Related Services:
24 Hour Florida Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-500-1119; TTY: 1-800-621-4202
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); TTY: 1-800-787-3224
Florida Department of Children & Families: 1-800-96-ABUSE (22873), http://www.dcf.state.fl.us
Victim Response Inc/The Lodge (305) 693-1170, thelodgemiami.org
North Dade Victim Center (Safespace Shelter North) (305) 758-2546
South Dade Victim Center (Safespace Shelter South) (305) 247-4249
Coordinated Victims Assistance Center (CVAC): 2400 S. Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 33133; (305) 285-5900
Survivor’s Pathway: 1801 Coral Way, Miami, FL 33145; (786) 275-4364
Clerk of Courts (DV Division)
Lawson E. Thomas Court House Center (main / downtown courthouse): 175 NW 1st Avenue, Miami, FL 33128 (mezzanine / M floor): (305) 349-5813
Hialeah Courthouse: (305) 520-4002
South Dade Government Center: (305) 252-5807
North Dade Justice Center: (305) 354-8736
Joseph Caleb Center: (305) 636-2415
Motion for Exclusive Use and Possession of the Marital Home FLORIDA (divorce action with minor children; filed on behalf of the Husband)$15.00
FLORIDA Motion for Exclusive Use and Possession of the Marital Home (divorce action with minor children; filed on behalf of the Wife)$15.00
Product on saleMotion for Exclusive Use and Possession of the Marital Home (Wife’s Request)
Product on saleMotion for Exclusive Use and Possession of the Marital Home (GENERAL)
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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