Couples preparing for divorce are longer required by law to physically separate in order to establish the date of separation. Many still choose to do so. What are the issues to consider when one of the spouses moves out during a divorce?
Moving out of the family home before the separation is completed and signed by both parties can have an impact on a North County or Carlsbad divorce in important ways.
In a recent case the former wife was ordered to pay her former husband for the exclusive use of the home during the divorce. This is known as a “Watts Credit.” The court in this case awarded the family home to the husband, ordering the wife to move out. The husband was to pay $260,000 for her community property share in the home. The court reduced that amount by $145,000, which it found to be the value of her exclusive use of the home for the time which she lived in the family house alone after the former husband moved out.
The trial court in this case also awarded the former husband $11,000 in “Epstein Credit” for the amounts he paid on the home’s mortgage during the time of their separation. These amounts were upheld by the appellate court who found:
“Where one spouse has the exclusive use of a community asset during the period between separation and trial, that spouse may be required to compensate the community for the reasonable value of that use.” (Watts Credit). “Conversely, when a spouse uses separate property funds after separation to pay a preexisting community obligation, the paying spouse may seek an “Epstein credit” for those payments upon division of the community estate.”
There may also be issues with child custody and child support if one moves out of the family home. The party remaining in the home often attempts to assert that the spouse who moved out “abandoned the children and is not fit to co-parent.”
Community property remaining in the home can also become a contentious issue. Questions may arise about the valuation of an asset or its condition. In some cases the asset may be “lost.” If it is absolutely necessary to move out of the family home we often recommend for our clients to take extensive video of the house and all contents and assets. If there is any documentation associated with an item or asset you wish to protect make sure you have copies before moving out.
There are many issues to consider when one of the spouses moves out during a divorce. This is why it is important to contact the experienced Carlsbad and North County Certified Family Law Specialists at Burke & Domercq.
We have represented clients before North County and San Diego family law courts for decades, and this experience provides valuable insight for our clients as we advise and counsel them regarding their unique circumstances, goals and objectives.
Protect your own interests and contact us or call 760-434-3330 to schedule an appointment for a remote or socially distanced consultation with one of our experienced Certified Family Law Specialists.