Under NC law, you can ask the court to order a separation, and give you possession of the marital home, in limited circumstances. Possession of the house is not ownership of the house and does not change how the house is titled. Even if you are granted possession, your spouse has a marital interest in the house. There are four situations that might cause the court to order a spouse to move out:
- Domestic Violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may file a lawsuit for a protective order and ask for possession of the marital home. If you cannot afford an attorney, Legal Aid may be able to help you get a domestic violence protective order. You should also contact the domestic violence agency in your area.
- Divorce from Bed and Board. The court can also order a separation based on other types of fault. This is called a divorce from bed and board. The law is not clear on whether the court can grant you possession of the home based on a divorce from bed and board. This is a complicated area of law, so you will definitely need talk to a family law attorney if you want to ask for a divorce from bed and board. The grounds for divorce from bed and board are in this statute. But basically, the statute says the court can order a separation if the offending spouse has:
- Moved out, and financially and physically abandoned the family;
- Forced the other spouse to leave the home against his or her will;
- Engaged in domestic violence or extreme emotional abuse;
- Used drugs or alcohol excessively; or
- Committed adultery.
- Intend to separate as soon as possible;
- Will file an action to divide marital assets once you separate; and
- Need sole possession of the marital home during the law suit.
Caution: If you file for a divorce from bed and board, protective order, or for interim distribution, and you do not win, then you either have to move out, or you are stuck living with the person you just sued.
You should consult with a family law attorney before you separate about your options and how to protect your assets.
The divorce attorneys at Averett Family Law can help you if your spouse refuses to move out of your home in Chapel Hill, Pittsboro, Hillsborough, Carrboro, Siler City, or other areas of Orange County, Chatham County, Wake County or Durham County, NC. You can read our practice page on property division in a divorce, or schedule a consultation with Averett Family Law or an attorney in your area to discuss your rights.
For more information, see our discussion of equitable distribution of property here.