When to ask for exclusive use of the marital home:

We’ve talked about this before. Yes, it’s normal for a couple going through a divorce to still be living together in the marital home. For example, the couple might continue to live together while the marital home is placed on the market and waiting to be sold. Sometimes, it works out for people who have kids and help each other manage their work schedule while the divorce and paperwork are finalized.

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 for that can help you make 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 circumstances, 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 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 pickup 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 exclusive use of the home even in cases were abuse is not present.

Other Resources:

Florida Family Law Forms

Domestic Violence-Petitioner’s Brochure

Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence

Florida Domestic Violence Statutes

If you have questions about domestic violence cases, it’s best to ask a qualified family law attorney. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your position, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.

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Legal Lotus, P.A. is a Miami-based law firm specializing in family law, civil litigation, and the drafting of contracts, partnerships, and wills.

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