QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I am uncomfortable living in the same house as my significant other, and we are estranged. Is there anything I can do other than moving out?

Many parties who are going through a break-up or a divorce reside in the same household for a period of time subsequent to the break up. Some parties are able to do this without issue, and it can be a great cost-saving mechanism to only have to utilize resources to pay for one residence. Some parties are not comfortable with this scenario for a variety of reasons. Some parties do not get along well enough to reside in the same household. Others wish to date, and don’t want to do so when they are living under the same roof as their ex. There are many different reasons why parties do not want to reside together while going through a break-up or a divorce, and in some scenarios, the Court can help these situations.

If residing in the same house as the other party is causing emotional or mental distress, in some scenarios, a Court may consider giving someone “exclusive possession” of their joint residence, in the divorce proceedings. That effectively removes one of the parties from the residence during the pendency of the case. That allows the other party to change the locks, put in an alarm system, etc. and prohibits the other party from entering the house, absent a court order allowing them to do so. This can help cause undue distress for both the parties and their minor children during the pendency of the matter, and is a good alternative to something such as an order of protection, when the parties are fine with each other, so long as they aren’t living in the same household. This is an option in some divorce cases for the parties if they cannot reside in the same household.

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