Who Pays the Home Expenses After Separation?
There are no laws specifically dealing with the payment of the home expenses immediately after separation prior to a court order or agreement. The resolution of this issue depends on your personal situation including you and your ex spouse’s incomes, the debts, the support obligation and who is living in the home just to name a few factors. One of our lawyers can give you specific advice regarding your situation. The following is a list of principles that may be helpful.
1. If you are living in the house and your ex spouse has moved out, generally, you should pay the utilities and home insurance.
2. Protect yourself. Don’t let a petty argument about the utilities result in your credit rating being ruined.
3. If you and your spouse are in the house together, you could share the cost of the utilities equally or in proportion to your incomes.
4. If one of you is paying a lot more of the debts, you may decide to share the cost of utilities unequally too. You can be creative.
5. Mortgage payments are treated differently than utility payments because you are protecting the value of an asset.
6. “Occupation Rent” is money paid by the one in the home to the one who has moved out. Generally, the amount owed is the fair market rent for the home less fifty percent (assuming you own the home jointly). Often if the one in the home is paying the mortgage on the home (a joint debt) it is about equal to the amount of occupation rent owed. So, it’s awash. Our lawyers can help you consider whether there is occupation rent owed in your situation.
7. Until the house is sold, sometimes the cost of the home (utilities, mortgage, insurance, minor maintenance costs) is paid instead of support payments.
8. If you are hoping to keep the home, you should hold off on doing any major maintenance or renovations until you have a separation agreement in place to ensure you will get ownership of the home.
9. If the home is going to be sold, usually costs to prepare it for sale are shared equally since both of you will enjoy the benefit when the home is sold.
10. Keep track of what you are paying so it can be sorted out fairly.