Men sitting with head in hands surrounded by boxes

If We Get a Divorce, Do I Have to Move Out?

Shelly Jean John, Attorney at Law March 9, 2021

Going through a divorce is often an emotional and difficult experience for everyone involved. During the divorce process, issues of property division often arise, and the subject of establishing living arrangements or vacating the marital home must be addressed. According to statistics from the American Community Survey, about 90,565 men and 104,935 women divorced in California in 2019. If you are considering filing for divorce and trying to determine whether to move out of your home, it is important that you speak with an experienced California family law attorney for detailed guidance.

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I seek to offer experienced legal services and comprehensive guidance in family law matters, including divorce and property division. As your legal counsel, I will work diligently to protect your rights and help you navigate critical decisions during this transition period. My firm is proud to serve clients across Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County, California.

Establishing Living Arrangements

The marital home is among the most valuable assets in every marriage. It is understandable that most spouses have an established emotional connection with their marital home. After working hard and making many sacrifices to turn the house into your home, deciding whether to move out of your marital home during a divorce can be difficult.

Depending on the circumstance surrounding your situation, you may consider the following factors to determine the best living arrangement:


When deciding whether to vacate your marital home, one of the things to consider is your safety. Are you safe in the home? Does your partner have a history of domestic violence? Take adequate steps to protect yourself and your kids from abuse and secure your safety. If necessary, petition the court for a protective order.


Spouses going through a divorce often have different levels of comfort regarding staying in the marital home. In order to avoid adversarial hostility or potential conflicts, many spouses prefer to move out of the marital home until the divorce is finalized. Unless you're not comfortable, you are still within your rights to continue staying in your home during the divorce proceedings.


Who stays in the marital home is usually determined by who has physical custody of the children. The court understands children may find it difficult to adjust to a new home or environment. This can result in an increased likelihood of maintaining the status quo. Notwithstanding, the parent moving out will still be allowed to establish a parenting schedule in order to spend as much time as possible with the children.


Another factor to consider when deciding the best living arrangement is your financial situation. The spouse with enough income to continue managing the home and paying the household expenses can decide to continue living in the home. However, depending on either party's level of income, selling the property and dividing the equity may be the eventual option.

Other Options

In a situation where vacating the marital home isn't possible, here are some other available options:

  • Continue staying with your spouse in the home, even after the divorce

  • Sell the home and share the equity

  • Bird-nesting (different parents living in the home with the children at different times)

It is important to understand that staying in the marital home during the divorce process does not necessarily mean that you're more likely to keep the house during asset division. California law requires that marital property distribution in a divorce case be "fair and equitable." Should one spouse get to keep the marital home, the other spouse will receive either money or another property of similar value.

Moreover, you can't make your spouse leave home if you both own the property unless the spouse has engaged in abusive behavior toward you or the children. In this case, you will need to file a protective order or petition for a court injunction. An experienced divorce attorney can evaluate your current situation and help you make an informed decision.

Choose an Experienced Family Law Attorney

A typical divorce often involves a lot of complexities. Negotiating a fair divorce settlement, dividing marital property, or establishing a fair living arrangement can make the entire divorce process even more complicated and overwhelming. Therefore, when considering a divorce, consulting with a knowledgeable California family law attorney is important to decide the best course of action.

At the Law Office of Shelly Jean John, I've devoted my career to providing comprehensive legal guidance and helping clients through the difficult transitions in their lives. As your legal counsel, I can review your personal situation, explore your legal options, and help navigate the key terms of the divorce. I will work diligently with all parties involved to resolve divorce issues smoothly. My firm can offer you the experienced legal counsel, support, and advocacy you need to move forward.

Contact my firm — the Law Office of Shelly Jean John — today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment. I'm proud to serve individuals and families across Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County, California.