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Who gets the house in a divorce?

Determining who gets the marital home is often one of the most contentious issues in a Florida divorce. If there are children involved, a court will normally allow the spouse who has physical custody of the children to keep the home. When a couple with no minor children divorces, a judge's decision about who gets the house might be more difficult.

In cases where one of the spouses paid for the house with their own separate funds, the house will legally belong to them. Money that is considered separate funds would have to have been acquired prior to the marriage or through an inheritance. If one spouse can prove that the house was paid for with separate funds, they can then order the other spouse to leave the premises.

Divorcing spouses who are living in a house that is considered jointly owned marital property cannot force each other to vacate. If a judge has not determined who is entitled to keep the house, both spouses may legally reside in the home, and neither spouse has the right to change the locks. A domestic violence incident, however, could result in one spouse losing their right to live in the house. If a spouse is found to have falsely alleged domestic violence in an effort to keep the house, they could risk losing legal rights to marital assets, including the home.

An individual who is going through a divorce with no minor children may need legal representation if they wish to retain the marital home during property division. If the other spouse owns other property or has sufficient means to live elsewhere, this information may help to influence a judge's decision. All divorces involve their own set of unique circumstances, so the information in this blog should not be taken as legal advice.

Source: Findlaw, "Divorce and Property", November 18, 2014

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