By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire
A common scenario after a husband and wife separate is neither party wants to move out of the marital residence/home. For a variety reasons (e.g., financial, children, proximity to work, hope for reconciliation, spite, etc.), the parties remain in the same home, as roommates and attempt to maintain as much normalcy and civility as possible. Often, unfortunately, the parties cannot make it work and one, or both, of the parties eventually wants the other other spouse out of the home. The question is presented then: how can I force my spouse to move out of the house?
23 Pa.C.S. § 3502(c), “Family Home,” provides that “the court may award, during the pendency of the action or otherwise, to one or both of the parties the right to reside in the marital residence.” In legal terms, we refer to this as filing “exclusive possession of the home.” It is strongly recommended that you hire an attorney to prepare and prosecute the Petition for Exclusive Possession on your behalf.
In determining to whom to award exclusive possession of the home, the court will consider a variety of considerations, such as whether the party seeking relief can afford to maintain the home on his/her own, the impact of the award on any children, whether the other party can afford independent housing, any marital misconduct of the parties, and other considerations. As a result, be especially prepared to demonstrate the financial abilities of both parties. The court can also limit the award of possession of the home. In other words, you could be granted the home during the pendency of the divorce, but in equitable distribution, the home is awarded to your spouse as part of the division of the marital estate.
If you, a family member, or a friend are currently residing with a spouse and are interested in exploring an action for exclusive possession of the home, please contact our office for a free initial consultation.