What Is Exclusive Possession Of The Marital Home During Divorce In Florida?
In Florida, there is no legal statute that directly addresses the issue of changing the locks on the doors or who gets to keep the home during an ongoing divorce. Whether one person has the right to keep the house depends on whether they have exclusive possession of the marital home.
When a couple is married, each person is entitled to stay in the home because both people are residents and their names may appear jointly on a lease or deed. After one person files for divorce, there is no automatic determination on who gets to stay in the home. Often, one person will move out because they simply do not want to live with their spouse any longer. Even in these cases, it does not mean the person who left does not have the right to return. Below, our Tampa asset and debt divorce attorney explains more.
Obtaining a Domestic Violence Injunction
After someone has become a victim of domestic violence, they can ask the court to issue a domestic violence injunction, or a restraining order. Injunctions usually include a provision that provides victims of domestic violence with exclusive possession of the marital home. If there is a subsequent divorce action, a judge will then determine how the marital home is distributed.
Obtaining Exclusive Possession of the Marital Home During Divorce
There is a period of time between when a divorce petition is filed and when the case is finalized. Sometimes, this period of time can take months and in some cases, even a year or more. An order for exclusive possession of the marital home, which allows one person to stay in the home exclusively, may be ordered by a judge.
If there are children involved in the divorce, judges will issue other temporary orders that will dictate certain terms until the divorce is finalized. These orders can include child support and parenting time. The spouse who receives temporary custody will usually also be awarded exclusive possession of the marital home.
Unless there have been violent incidents, a judge will not usually award exclusive possession of the marital home when there are no children. It is presumed that the couple has likely been cohabitating as roommates for some time, so another few months will not make a difference.
Can You Change the Locks During Divorce?
Unless you have been awarded exclusive possession of the marital home, you should not change the locks while your divorce is ongoing. If you do, the police may be called to the scene. They will likely inform you that it is a civil matter that it should be resolved in the family courts. Law enforcement will likely allow your spouse back in to at least collect their things.
Even if your spouse does not call the police, they may try to break into the house. You will have no legal recourse because unless you have been granted exclusive possession, your spouse still has a right to be in the home.
Our Asset and Debt Divorce Attorneys in Tampa Can Provide Sound Legal Advice on Your Case
If you are going through a divorce, our Tampa divorce attorneys at All Family Law Group, P.A. will advise you on asset and debt division and on every aspect of your case to obtain the most favorable outcome. Call us now at 813-672-1900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Se habla Español.