Recently on our legal forum a husband ask, “My wife and I got in a fight this weekend, and she tried to get me to leave the house. I didn’t want to leave so I locked myself in our bedroom. Now I am wondering what I legally have to do if she tells me to leave. I keep thinking, however, that I have as much right to stay as she does. It’s my house too!”
Many men voluntarily decide to leave the marital home. Doing this, however, is considered one of the worst mistakes that a man can do. In fact, this mistake ranks number one on James Cordell’s “List of the ten most stupid mistakes a man can make.”
Regardless of whether or not it’s the right thing to do, however, many men decide it’s their obligation to leave, even if it’s the woman who is pressing for the divorce or separation. Experts contend, however, that voluntarily agreeing to leave a home can be very dangerous because once you’re out it’s hard to get back in.
Do you have to leave to leave the marital home?
All men, and women for that matter, should understand that they have a legal right to inhabit a marital home if their name is on the lease or they are on the mortgage. If your spouse cannot stand to be in the same marital house with you, politely let her know that she is not obligated to stay.
The reason for this is simple: voluntarily leaving the marital home can be construed as you “abandoning” the family. This may not have been the case, but it will be easier for your wife’s divorce lawyer to make this argument if you voluntarily leave.
Leaving the marital home may also give evidence to the court that you are not willing to stay and fight for the right to maintain a relationship with your kids. If, on the other hand, you refuse to leave and you will not settle for periodic visits with your kids, this sends a strong message to the court that your children are a top priority.
Additionally, voluntarily moving out of the marital home and establishing a part time visitation schedule with your kids allows the court to transition that arrangement into a permanent visitation schedule after the divorce. Worse yet, you will only see your kids periodically but you will have to also pay child support.
What if my wife gets a protective order against me?
If you peruse the internet there are hundreds of articles and blogs about spouses who used protective orders to separate themselves from another person who may or may not have been dangerous. Many men argue, in fact, that the whole system is stacked against them.
This may or may not be the case, but if your spouse goes to all the trouble of filing for a protective order and somehow convinces the court that you are a danger to her and the kids at least you can argue that despite all your efforts toward maintaining the family routine, you were forced to leave.
It’s important to stay in the marital home no matter how much your spouse begs and cajoles you leave.
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