Does moving out affect property division rights in a divorce?

Even if your relationship with your spouse has become a miserable source of daily arguments, you may still feel trapped in the home where you have lived together for years. The chances are good that your home is the most valuable asset that the two of you own jointly, and therefore you don’t want to do anything that would endanger your interest in the home in your upcoming divorce.

North Carolina generally applies an equitable approach to property division, but many people don’t know what that means. Will you lose out on your share of the home’s value if you decide to move out before the courts finalize the divorce?

The equity in the home is likely marital property

If you purchased the home during the marriage, then the chances are very good that any equity in the house is marital property that the two of you need to divide in your divorce. However, even in a scenario where one spouse owned the house prior to the marriage, the mortgage payments, tax payments and repair investments made using marital property would make at least some of the house’s equity a part of the marital estate.

Leaving the house will not mean that your spouse gets to keep the home, nor will it mean that you won’t receive your fair share of its value in the divorce. The spouse who moves out can expect to receive an equitable portion of the equity accrued in the property or assets worth a comparable amount in the divorce. In some cases, they may even regain possession or the right to live at the home following the divorce.

Factors including the ability of each spouse to pay for the property, their emotional attachment to the home and their contributions to the couple’s ownership, including unpaid contributions, can influence property division choices in the divorce.

Your safety should always be the top concern

In an unhealthy or volatile marriage, leaving the home even if it will complicate the property division process could very well be the right choice. Talking to a lawyer about what to expect in a North Carolina divorce can help you feel more confident about the prospect of moving out or being the one to file divorce paperwork.

The more you learn about what to expect from the process, the easier it will be to assert your rights. Learning more about property division during North Carolina divorces can help you feel comfortable with the idea of filing.

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