When a marriage is in the process of coming to an end, it is understandable when one of the spouses may not want the other spouse to remain in the house longer than necessary. However, many times neither spouse wishes to leave the home or simply cannot afford to leave and pay for a place to live during the divorce process. So the question is: If your spouse refuses your request to leave the home, do you have a right to kick him or her out?

Before you attempt to evict your spouse by calling law enforcement, it is important to understand the rights of your spouse and your legal options. Refrain from taking drastic action without first contacting an experienced Knoxville divorce attorney. Making a rash decision without being properly informed could damage your divorce case over the long term.

Grounds for forcing a spouse to leave the house during divorce proceedings

You may seek an order of protection if your spouse is violent, or has threatened violence against you or your kids. An order of protection orders may ensure that your spouse stay a certain amount of feet away from you, and can prevent him or her from entering the home. However, if no violence or threat of violence is present, the grounds for forcing a spouse to leave are less sure.

You can file an action with the trial court, seeking exclusive use of the marital residence. A judge can decide this question based on the specific circumstances of the case. Some judges may grant the petition, making the consideration that you are headed for divorce in the immediate future. Other judges may refuse to hear petition at all, referencing a lack of judicial authority on their part to consider the issue.

What about changing the locks?

You can, but the chances are good it won’t be legally binding. If you change your locks to keep your husband or wife out, he or she can legally break those locks, or call a locksmith. This is true even if your spouse willingly leaves the home, but then decides he or she wants to return.

This is not the case, however, if you have an order of protection. If you are staying in your marital home and have an order of protection, you should legally be allowed to change the locks.

What if one spouse is not listed as an owner on the deed?

It doesn’t matter. The marital home is marital property, regardless of which one of you is on the deed. If you lived together in that home, the judge will recognize it as both of yours.

Additional considerations about the bills

One thing to remember is this: no matter who stays in the home, the bills will need to be paid. Now, if you and your spouse can come to an agreement about paying the mortgage and the bills, that’s all well and good. If not, though, then it could be a challenge to convince a judge that your expenses should equitably divided as part of your collective debts, when your spouse has been forced to move out.

If you are going through a divorce and there is disagreement about who may continue living in the home during the divorce process, an experienced Knoxville divorce attorney from LeFevor & Slaughter can help. Give our law office a call today at 865-637-6258 or drop us a message through our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.