Issues When One of the Spouses Moves Out During a Divorce

Pierre Domercq Divorce

We previously discussed the importance of the “Date of Separation” and while it is not longer required by law for the former spouses to physically separate, many choose to do so. This choice can have an impact on the divorce in important ways.
One recent case the former wife was ordered to pay her former husband for the exclusive use of the home during the divorce. This is known as a “Watts Credit.” The court in this case awarded the family home to the husband, ordering the wife to move out. The hasband was to pay $260,000 for her community property share in the home. The court reduced that amount by $145,000, which it found to be the value of her exclusive use of the home for the time which she lived in the family house alone after the former husband moved out.
The trial court in this case also awarded the former husband $11,000 in “Epstein Credit” for the amounts he paid on the home’s mortgage during the time of their separation. These amounts were upheld by the appellate court who found:
“Where one spouse has the exclusive use of a community asset during the period between separation and trial, that spouse may be required to compensate the community for the reasonable value of that use.” (Watts Credit). “Conversely, when a spouse uses separate property funds after separation to pay a preexisting community obligation, the paying spouse may seek an “Epstein credit” for those payments upon division of the community estate.”
There may also be issues with child custody and child support if one moves out of the family home. The issues in these cases can be quite complex and there are often substantial amounts of money involved. This is why it is important to contact the experienced Carlsbad and North County divorce attorneys at Burke & Domercq.
We have represented clients before North County family law courts for decades, and this experience provides valuable insight for our clients as we advise and counsel them regarding their unique circumstances, goals and objectives. We invite you to contact us or call 760-712-3741 to schedule an appointment.