The time in between when you decide to get a divorce and when the divorce is final can seem like an eternity. When you are forced to spend those interminable days with the person you are trying to separate yourself from, it can make healing and moving on with your life an elusive fantasy. Many Maryland spouses who find themselves in the throes of divorce wonder what steps they can take to boot their soon-to-be-former spouse out of the house.

When you want to keep the home for yourself and your children after the divorce

Given that the family home is often the most valuable asset a couple will acquire during their marriage, the battle over who will get the home in the divorce can be a contentious one.

If you have children and you have physical custody (whether shared or sole custody), a Maryland judge can award exclusive use and possession of the marital home, which was the primary residence while you were married. The court can give one spouse exclusive rights to live in the home for up to three years after the divorce, and the spouse who does not get the home may be required to contribute to the mortgage or even pay the mortgage in full even if they are no longer living there.

The judge will consider several factors when deciding whether to give one spouse exclusive use of the house such as the best interest of the child, how the arrangement will impact the other spouses’ finances, and if the home is used for business purposes.

The exclusive use and possession of the house “shall terminate when the party with the possession or use of the property remarries,” or when your youngest child reaches the age of 18.

In cases of domestic violence

If the spouse you would like to evict has been abusing you, asking him or her to leave the home is also an issue of your safety. If you are a victim of domestic violence, the Maryland courts can give you up to one year in the house without your spouse through the issuance of a protective order. To get a final protective order you will attend a hearing and present evidence to support your allegations of domestic abuse.

A note about changing the locks on your doors before or during a divorce

One of the “quirks” of Maryland law is, should your spouse buy or rent another home, you have no legal right to enter it – but he or she may retain legal rights to enter yours, unless:

  • You have a protective order
  • You have a use and possession order

If you and your spouse are divorcing and you change the locks on the marital home before any order has been made, your spouse can legally call a locksmith or break the locks to get inside.

When you are dealing with issues such as the exclusive use and possession of the home, whether because of abuse or other reasons, it is vital that you seek the advice of an experienced Columbia divorce attorney who can advise you based on the facts of your case and represent your interests.

The Columbia family law attorneys at McCabe Russell, P.A. are here to represent you interests as you move through the divorce process. You may speak with a divorce lawyer serving Howard County clients by calling 443-812-1435 or filling out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Bethesda, Rockville and Fulton.