Exclusive Use and Possession of Marital Home During Divorce

If you’re getting divorced and you are on good terms with your STBX (soon to be ex), you may mutually agree to let one of you continue to live in your home while the other person moves out. Unfortunately, many divorces are uglier than that, and a court might grant one spouse the exclusive use and possession of the marital home.

What does that mean?

When you are married, it is likely that you live with your spouse in a home that you either own or rent together. This is legally referred to as the “marital home.” When there are cases of domestic violence or other volatile relationships, a judge may order that one of the two people gets “exclusive use and possession” of that marital home. Family court judges here in Michigan dislike making one of the spouses homeless, unless there is significant good cause to award exclusive use to the other spouse. 

If there are kids involved, a divorce judge will often order the parent who has the kids more often will also have the use and possession of the marital home as it tends to be in the best interest of children to have some familiarity during this difficult process. Michigan law believes that generally speaking, consistency is better for children rather than uprooting and change. 

Can I enter the home?

If there is a court order in place granting your STBX (soon to be ex)  the exclusive use and possession of the marital home, you cannot enter without his/her consent. Doing so could lead to being found in contempt of court or issuance of a Personal Protection Order (PPO) against you. 

What if my ex changed the locks without having a court order?

If your ex changed the locks on the house without having a court order granting him/her the exclusive use and possession, the police may allow you to enter to retrieve belongings or may tell you and your ex that you have a right to be there until there is a court order saying otherwise. If there is no court order awarding a spouse exclusive use of the marital home, generally speaking, the other spouse is free to enter the home by breaking in or having a locksmith open the locks. However, safety and the particulars of each case indicate that you should do nothing without fully discussing your case with an experienced family law attorney. 

What can I do about it?

Seeking legal advice from an experienced family law attorney is a great place to start to avoid misinformation and see what potential next steps are available to you. 

The Kronzek Firm can help you answer your divorce questions.

Our skilled divorce law team is here to help you. If you are searching for expert legal advice, our firm has represented thousands of people in Michigan’s lower peninsula in their divorces. Whether you are in Novi, West Bloomfield, Troy, or Birmingham, our divorce attorneys have helped with family law cases. To set up your free consultation today, call 248-479-6200. We’re available 24/7, including nights and weekends for crisis intervention.