Couples divide everything during a divorce. This means splitting finances, cars, the kids and even the pets. But what about the house? Who gets to stay and who should leave?

Property-related concerns become an issue when one spouse insists on residing in the marital home without the other. Questions arise, from the typical dilemma of changing locks to the more complex issue of mortgage payment.

It is tempting to make drastic decisions, especially during high-conflict divorces. Still, it’s important to learn your rights first. Nyst Legal, a family law firm, also recommends getting expert help, especially with the following concerns:

Forced Out of the Premises

Law firms are no strangers to stories of couples kicking their spouses out of the home, threatening to call the police if they do not. Spouses, however, cannot force their partners out without a court order. A simple demand is not enough.

Authorities will deal with situations in need of security, but the absence of illegal activities or breach of court orders cannot force a spouse out of the marital home.

Leaving and Paying the Bills

Some spouses choose to voluntarily leave the house. In these cases, should they still pay the bills?

Usual circumstances see residing parties pay for home-related bills: utilities, mortgage repayments and rates. Still, it’s important to consider other factors, such as the individual party’s capability to pay for all the expenses and if the kids also live in the marital home.

Seek the advice of a lawyer regarding this matter, especially with spousal maintenance claims.

Minimising Risks

Prior to the divorce, it is wise to consider living arrangements. Instead of dealing with an unreasonable soon-to-be-ex spouse, protect your rights now. Start with a Binding Financial Agreement, which allows both parties to come with agreements concerning property rights. Having your name on the title as joint tenants also emphasises equal rights between both occupants.

The period after a marriage breakdown is difficult for both parties. But it’s important to keep a level head during this time. Before you make drastic decisions, consult an attorney first.