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If We Get a Divorce, Do I Have to Move Out?

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed June 7, 2023

Divorce keeps Tennessee courts busy. More than 20,000 divorce petitions are filed year after year. Still, more than 50,000 people choose to get married every year.  

What that means is that 50,000 people are living together while another 20,000 are trying to figure out what their living arrangements will be. In the latter case, who has to move out in a divorce? There is no single answer. Who stays and who goes, if either person, depends on several factors.  

Who will need to leave the family home is perhaps one of the most unsettling and expensive issues couples face in divorce. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our team of family law attorneys will help you explore the variables of living arrangements during and after divorce and work to help you stay or move out of the family home according to your wishes. In the meantime, if you live in Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, or any surrounding counties (including Anderson County, Oak Ridge County, Blount County, Loudon County, Clinton County, Maryville County, and Union County), there are several key pieces of information you should know about living arrangements and divorce.  

What Are Key Considerations for Living Arrangements in Divorce?

Living arrangements will be an issue both during the divorce and after the dissolution is granted. If the divorce is contentious, they may find it difficult to reach any agreement regarding living arrangements. If they cannot and the court must decide, there are three key considerations: 

  1. Safety. The first consideration is safety. If domestic abuse is an issue in the divorce, the court will protect the victim of abuse and any children in the home, usually by allowing them to continue living there until the marriage is dissolved. What happens to the family residence after the divorce will depend on how the marital property is divided and on the financial capacity of each spouse.  

  1. Comfort. Another consideration is the comfort among the spouses to live together until the divorce is settled. Some couples can’t afford to pay for two homes during divorce and may choose to wait until the marital property is divided before either makes a move. However, continuing to live under the same roof while working through the divorce process can be untenable for many couples. 

  1. Children. If there are minor children involved, the court’s highest priority will be on what is best for them. If the home environment is too upsetting with both parents still there, and the primary caregiver parent asks the court to order the other spouse to leave, the court will consider it for the sake of the children.  

What Are the Options for the Marital Home After Divorce?

There is more than one potential living arrangement in divorce, other than one spouse remaining in it and the other finding a new place to live. Here are some of those scenarios: 

  • Both spouses could continue to live in the home. This is an option if they can get along, agree to essentially “roommate rules,” and when neither can afford to live on their own.  

  • The family home can be sold with the proceeds divided equitably according to the marital property division agreement. Both spouses would then find new places to live.  

  • One spouse may be able to buy the other spouse’s share of the marital home. The spouse would pay the other spouse half of the value of the home and then continue to live there, putting the deed in their name.  

  • The couple may refinance the debt on the home, which might help one of them buy the other spouse out or simply make it affordable for that spouse to continue to live there.  

  • If the couple has minor children, the court will usually find that not moving them is in their best interest. As such, living arrangements will focus on ways that allow the parent with primary physical custody of the children to remain living there.  

  • One less traditional living arrangement designed to provide continuity for children is “bird-nesting.” In this arrangement, the parents, not the children, move in and out of the house according to the custody and parenting plan. This would require that both parents have a place to live when the other parent is spending time with the children in the home.  

Does the Spouse Who Lives in the Home During Divorce Get to Stay 

The spouse who lives in the home while the divorce is pending does not necessarily get to stay once the divorce is final. If the house is separate property belonging to only one spouse, it is not subject to division in divorce. Although the owner spouse may be prohibited from selling the house until the divorce is final, it will be theirs once it is.  

Also, if the parent who primarily takes care of the children is allowed to stay in the house with them during the divorce, they may still have to relocate after the marital property is divided.  

Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means marital property is not divided equally but rather fairly, according to the needs and resources of each spouse.  

Get Your Questions Answered—Contact Our Firm Today

Even in the most amicable divorces, living arrangements can be a complicated and contentious matter. Sometimes a spouse wants a fresh start in a new home. Sometimes, a spouse’s emotional attachment to a home is overwhelming. In every case, it often comes down to whether either one can afford to keep it when marital assets and debts are divided.  

Understanding your options and the financial realities of divorce will help build your confidence. Don’t wait any longer to get your questions answered. If you need a divorce attorney in Tennessee, reach out to us for detailed support.