Divorce can be messy. That’s probably why our Raleigh Divorce Workshop is often asked this question: “How do I force them out of the house?”
In North Carolina, you must live separately for one year before you can file for divorce. So at least one of you needs to move out. In some cases, the choice is clear. But in others, neither party wants to move. What then?
First, if the house belonged to one of you before marriage, it won’t be considered a marital asset. It’s that person’s property. If you own the house, you can take steps to kick your spouse out. But it’s best to discuss those options with a divorce lawyer.
In many cases, you both own the house. Until the divorce is final, one of you cannot kick out the other without a court order. That’s where things can be tricky: how are you supposed to separate for a year to get a divorce if one of you won’t leave?
The courts don’t want to force anyone out, and they’re not going to get involved if you and your partner can’t decide who has to leave the house.
Steps You Can Take to Keep the House
First, if domestic violence is an issue, seek the advice of a lawyer as soon as possible. Your safety is the most important thing, and he or she can guide you on the best course of action.
An Agreement – Aside from that, the best option is typically to start negotiating an agreement with your spouse and let them know that when an agreement is reached, you anticipate that they will vacate the marital home. Your lawyer can draw up an agreement to this effect and include a requirement that your spouse will vacate the residence within a certain timeframe. Of course, a truly stubborn person may refuse to leave and refuse to any agreement.
Move Out – Your next option is to move out and hope you’ll be able to move back in later. The legal action is called a claim for Equitable Distribution. The downside is you can cause problems for yourself by moving out without a formal Non-Abandonment Agreement or other legal sufficient protections. You may be accused of abandoning the marriage or prejudice your marital claims in other ways. ALWAYS consult a family law attorney prior to moving out unless your safety is at risk.
Getting a hearing on this issue will take awhile. Plus, there is no guarantee this will work in your favor.
Divorce from Bed and Board – One other option is to get a “divorce from bed and board.” In North Carolina, this is a way to force separation from your spouse, but you must prove he/she is at fault in some way. This isn’t an absolute divorce, which means you’ll still be legally married. This offers a way to obtain legal separation and force one spouse out of the home. Unfortunately, you’ll still have to go through another legal proceeding later to finalize the absolute divorce.
Additionally, getting before a judge for a bed and board divorce may take some time, so it’s not an appealing option for many.
If you are struggling to separate from your spouse, it’s best to speak to an attorney about your specific situation and how it might be handled.
You can come learn more about legal issues surrounding divorce at our monthly divorce workshop.