Use and Possession of the Marital Home
Who Gets the Marital Home in the Divorce?
There are financial costs associated with divorce, and sometimes those costs can be astronomical. But the non-quantifiable costs brought on by divorce can be even more devastating, namely the mental and emotional impact it can have on the family. Often, deciding what to do with the marital home can be an extremely tough issue for the divorcing couple to face.
When a divorcing couple shares a child, the process can dramatically affect the child’s life; in fact, it could mark the end of life as he or she knows it. Divorce can bring on a change of residence and schools, which can lead to feelings of isolation due to the loss of friends and resentment toward the parents for causing these changes, along with countless other emotional and physical manifestations. As a parent with custody of a minor child, Maryland law entitles you to request “temporary use and possession” of the family home, which will allow you to maintain a stable environment for your child for up to three years or until you remarry, whichever comes first. This award also may include “family use” personal property—such as the family vehicle, furniture, and appliances.
Similar to most custody determinations, the court considers the “best interests of the child” when awarding temporary use and possession of the marital home. But it also takes into account:
- Each spouse’s interest in continued use of the home as a primary residence;
- Each spouse’s need for income to be derived from the sale or use of the home; and
- Whether an award of temporary use and possession will create a hardship for the other party.
During the period in which the marital home is to be used by the custodial parent, the court can order one or both parties to pay all or part of any existing encumbrances, such as:
- The monthly mortgage or rental payments;
- The maintenance, insurance, and taxes; or
- Any expenses in connection with ownership of the property.
But there are situations that limit a custodial parent’s right to seek an award of temporary use and possession. For example:
- Awards of temporary use and possession do not apply if a party to the divorce has custody of a minor child from a prior marriage or relationship; the child must be from the divorcing couple.
- If the family home was acquired by the noncustodial parent before the marriage, or was inherited, the court will examine the facts to determine how the home was acquired and may deny the request.
- In the case of joint physical custody, the court will review the custody arrangement, consider the needs and the best interests of the child, and make a determination.
For the custodial parent, having temporary use and possession of the family home could help minimize the negative impact a divorce might have on a minor child. To seek professional advice on whether your situation would warrant such an award, contact Howard County, MD, attorney Fred L. Coover, Esq., of Coover Law Firm, LLC, at 410-995-1100.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post is provided for general educational & informational purposes only. It is not intended to convey legal advice or serve as a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.