One of the first pieces of advice that people offer those going through a divorce is that they should never move out of their marital home until the end of the divorce proceedings. Some people will suffer through months of the silent treatment from their ex or intense screaming fights because they’ve been told that moving out of the marital home is a strategic mistake.
Most people have heard some story about a person losing possession of their home in a divorce because they temporarily left after a dispute with their spouse. Does that really mean that you can’t leave your house until after the courts finalize your divorce?
Tenancy does not affect your community property rights
It is true that in divorces where one spouse moves out of the house, the judge may consider that when deciding who gets to stay in the house in the long term. The custody of children in the family will also influence that decision.
Although the judge may say that the spouse who stayed in the house can keep living there, that doesn’t mean the other spouse loses their financial interest in the home. Under community property laws, the equity established in the home during your marriage belongs to both of you. Where you live does not affect your financial interest in the property as the divorce moves forward. Even if your ex keeps the house, they will likely need to refinance so that you can receive your fair share of the equity in it.
Understanding your rights under community property laws will make fighting for a fair outcome easier in your pending divorce.