Can a Wife Move Back Into the House if the Divorce Is Not Final?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

Can a Wife Move Back Into the House if the Divorce Is Not Final?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

While it is common for a wife or husband to move out of the home during the divorce proceedings, it doesn't always happen. Until it is final, both spouses have the right to live in their marital home, even if one of them initially volunteered to move out during the divorce proceedings. The only time when a spouse can't return to their home is if a court order indicates as such. An example of this would be if one of the spouses obtains a restraining order against the other.

Woman and man sitting on opposite ends of a couch

Marital Home

This is the home used by you and your spouse during the marriage. It is generally the largest asset in a divorce, and could also be the most important to both you and your spouse. During a divorce, the home can quickly become the center of a debate, as well as a source of discomfort.

Without a court order requiring one spouse to leave the marital home, neither you or your spouse are required to do so during a divorce. Your spouse may leave voluntarily to make both of your lives more comfortable but that doesn't mean your spouse gives up their right to return.

Each spouse has a right to the marital home.

Without interruption, each spouse has a right to the marital home. The only exception to this is when a court orders one spouse to leave. Neither spouse can force the other spouse out of the home. You cannot change the locks, alarm code, or garage door frequency. You must not impede your spouse's ability to live there during a divorce, even as uncomfortable as it may be

Each spouse has a right to come back to the marital home.

Even if a spouse has left the marital home voluntarily, each spouse has a right to return. There are exceptions to this rule. If your wife has begun living in a new house, she may not have the right to return. Because she has left, she has an expectation of privacy in her new house much like you have an expectation of privacy now in the marital home.

Your spouse may want to return because she realizes she cannot afford to live in her new house. But this doesn't automatically guarantee she can return. Even if she left voluntarily and established a new home elsewhere, she might have to obtain a court order allowing her to return.

There are situations where a spouse may return to the marital home.

Sometimes your spouse may be allowed to return to the marital home even if she left voluntarily. This situation can arise in several different ways. If you cannot pay for the home but your wife can, then a court may allow your wife to move in and potentially order you to move out. If your wife has custody of the children, she might also be allowed to return and raise and support the children there.

Regardless of the reason your spouse left the marital home, they may be able to return. That doesn't mean it will be easy or comfortable but, until the divorce is final, your wife may return to the home.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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