Who Gets to Stay in the Family Home After a Maryland Divorce?
When married spouses decide to pursue a divorce in Maryland, they must decide how to split up their property. While engaging in the exercise of property division, the spouses must consider how to handle their family home, where they live with any of their children. Before allowing either spouse to enjoy possession and use of the family home, the Maryland state courts must consider several important factors.
The definition of the family home appears in Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-201. In order to qualify as the family home under Section 8-201, a property must satisfy the following conditions:
- Both spouses lived together at the property;
- Either spouse owns or rents the property during the divorce process; and
- Either spouse and a child will live at the property after the divorce process concludes.
Unless a property meets all of the conditions above, it does not qualify as a family home under Maryland state law.
Possession & Use
Under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-208, the state courts have certain powers regarding possession and use of the family home. In the process of granting an annulment or a divorce, a Maryland court may:
- Award sole possession and use of the family home to either spouse; or
- Divide possession and use of the family home between the spouses.
The Maryland courts may also exercise this authority temporarily, while the spouses work to complete their divorce.
Section 8-208 also dictates that the Maryland courts take certain required considerations into account before awarding possession and use of the family home. Specifically, the state courts must consider the:
- Best Interests of any children involved;
- Interest of either spouse in continuing to occupy or use the family home for residential or commercial purposes;
- Hardship, if any, that might flow from the award of possession and use of the family home.
As indicated by the factors above, the Maryland courts must balance various interests before deciding how to address the possession and use of the family home.
In awarding possession and use of the family home, Section 2-208 enables the Maryland courts to determine responsibility for financial obligations. Under this section, the state courts may require either or both spouses to pay for:
- Mortgage or rent payments for the family home;
- Debts or other obligations related to the family home;
- Assessments, insurance, maintenance, and taxes related to the family home; or
- Other expenses directly related to the family home.
Even when a Maryland court grants sole possession and use of the family home to one spouse, the other spouse still has certain rights for tax purposes. The other spouse maintains their right to claim the family home as their permanent address and residence for tax purposes.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal assistance with property division or other facets of a Maryland divorce, it can be a serious difference-maker to consult with an experienced Bel Air divorce attorney. The legal team at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered has more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including property division and divorce. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.