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What Can I Do If My Spouse Won’t Leave?

You and your spouse have had the divorce talk.  You know you want a divorce but your spouse does not agree.  In fact, your spouse is adamant he or she is not moving out of the house.  You cannot afford to leave the house or you would have done it a long time ago.  Tension is escalating.  You are afraid of what is going to happen if someone does not move out soon.

“If you want a divorce, fine.  You move out!”

Sound familiar?

It is not uncommon for spouses to disagree about whether they should get a divorce.  Even if both spouses agree to a divorce, they may not be able to decide who should move out of the house.  To obtain a no-fault absolute divorce in North Carolina, the parties must be physically separated for at least year.   If neither party is willing to move, a frequently asked question is “how can I make my spouse leave the home?”  The short answer is – speak with your attorney about your specific situation. But, in situations such as the one above, your attorney may advise you to file a claim for divorce from bed and board.

Divorce from bed and board is different from absolute divorce.  A divorce from bed and board is a legal action available in North Carolina.  It establishes a legal separation between two parties.  If successful, one of the spouses will be ordered to leave the marital residence.

In North Carolina, divorce from bed and board is based on fault.  Meaning, you must prove the other spouse did one of the following:

  1. Abandoned his or her family;
  2. Maliciously turned you out of doors (i.e. wrongfully evicted you from the home);
  3. Endangered your life by cruel or barbarous treatment;
  4. Offered such indignities against you as to render your condition intolerable and life burdensome;
  5. Excessively uses alcohol or drugs so as to render your condition intolerable and life burdensome; or
  6. Committed adultery.

These are obviously very specific circumstances.  Whether or not you qualify to file for a divorce from bed and board will depend on the facts of your case.  It can take some time to obtain a divorce from bed and board since Judge’s calendars are overflowing with family disputes.  For that reason, it may be appropriate to try to negotiate with your spouse to leave the premises either before or while you attempt to obtain a divorce from bed and board.

Are you a dependent spouse who’s concerned about how you’re going to make it financially if you move out?  You may be eligible for post separation support during your separation.  Don’t let financial fear prevent you from leaving an unhealthy marriage.

Speak with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys today to see if divorce from bed and board is an option for you.

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