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Can I be forced to leave my home during a divorce?

In Massachusetts, a judge presiding over a couple's divorce proceedings can enter an order requiring either the husband or wife to vacate the marital home for up to 90 days in the event that the other spouse is able to prove that failing to enter such an order would put either the spouse or his or her children at serious risk of harm. The order may be extended for an additional time period as needed.

When a person files a motion for an order for his or her spouse to vacate the marital home, a hearing will be scheduled within three days. The party who is subject of the motion may appear at the hearing with an attorney.

If the party filing the motion has demonstrated a substantial likelihood of endangerment, the court can issue an order to vacate without prior notice and then schedule a hearing within five days of the order. The court can issue such orders even in cases in which the party filing the motion has left the home out of fear or in situations in which the spouse who is subject of the order has already left the home.

Courts in Massachusetts can issue orders for people to move out of their marital homes while their divorce is pending. This does not mean the home will automatically be awarded to the person who was not ordered to move, however. People who have received a notice of hearing regarding an order to vacate their homes during a divorce may benefit by speaking with a family law attorney who can help by representing the client's interest at the hearing.

Source: The General Court, "General Laws", October 29, 2014

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