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House responsibilities

Started by mistoffolees, Jan 20, 2007, 04:50:17 AM

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mistoffolees

I filed for divorce in September. My stbx signed an agreement saying that we would have 50:50 physical custody of my daughter for the temporary period and would propose that as a permanent settlement. My stbx said that she wanted to keep the house and I should find my own place, so I moved out on my attorney's advice.

Now it's January and still no temporary hearing with the judge (my stbx's attorney is dragging things out forever). The roof in the marital house is leaking into the garage. As near as I can tell, no water is leaking into the living quarters, just the garage. She claims that water is dripping into an electrical socket.

Since I have been paying more than adequate support (during the past 5 months, she has gotten about 60% of our combined income) and her bank balance is currently more than 4 times mine, I told her it's her responsibility to maintain the house since she wanted to keep it. She's refusing and says I need to fix it.

Do I have any responsibility to fix the house - especially in light of the fact that water dripping on the electrical socket (if this is really true) might create a risk?

Ordinarily, I would pay for it and deduct it from the monthly check I'm sending, but cash is getting pretty tight right now.

Thanks.

socrateaser

>Do I have any responsibility to fix the house - especially in
>light of the fact that water dripping on the electrical socket
>(if this is really true) might create a risk?

If you have no enforceable agreement with your spouse, and no temporary orders, then at common law, where parties are joint tenants, the party who is occupying the property is liable to the other party for one half of the fair market rental value of the property, and one half of the mortgage, taxes, insurance and repairs to maintain the property.

These rights and liabilities may be altered by the law of your state, concerning property, marriage and divorce, but what I'm describing is the general rule.

So, your spouse is liable to reimburse you for one half of the repair costs.

Having said this, I strongly suggest you discuss your case with a different attorney, because for an attorney to advise you to move out of the family home, is in my opinion, a violation of the #1 DON'T of family law: DON'T MOVE OUT OF THE FAMILY HOME.

mistoffolees

Could you please clarify your last statement. I can think of two reasons not to leave the family home - control over the property and custody issues.

I couldn't care less about the property. If she doesn't want it, we'll sell it and either way, I'm entitled to half the equity. I got all the possessions I wanted.

As for custody, I stayed in the house until I got an agreement (signed by both my stbx and her attorney) that we would have joint legal custody and 50:50 physical custody on a temporary basis and would recommend the same to the court on a permanent basis.

I have had my daughter every other week in my home for the entire time since I moved out and have actually had MORE of the other parental responsibilities (doctor appointments, child care, etc). It would be hard to argue that I abandoned her.

If she tries to stop the every other week custody, I could always move back in.

What have I missed?

socrateaser

>Could you please clarify your last statement. I can think of
>two reasons not to leave the family home - control over the
>property and custody issues.
>
>I couldn't care less about the property. If she doesn't want
>it, we'll sell it and either way, I'm entitled to half the
>equity. I got all the possessions I wanted.
>
>As for custody, I stayed in the house until I got an agreement
>(signed by both my stbx and her attorney) that we would have
>joint legal custody and 50:50 physical custody on a temporary
>basis and would recommend the same to the court on a permanent
>basis.
>
>I have had my daughter every other week in my home for the
>entire time since I moved out and have actually had MORE of
>the other parental responsibilities (doctor appointments,
>child care, etc). It would be hard to argue that I abandoned
>her.
>
>If she tries to stop the every other week custody, I could
>always move back in.
>
>What have I missed?

You missed telling me that you have a signed agreement waiting to be ordered by the judge. You said you have no temporary orders, and to me that means you have no agreement whatsoever, but you moved out of the house. If you have an agreement which is submitted to the court but not yet signed by the judge, then you really have an order, it's just not enforceable until the judge signs, it.

However, if you had told your spouse and her attorney that you wouldn't move out until the agreement was entered by the court, I'll bet it would be entered already.

As far as the home goes, your equity will be diminished if it rains through the roof and causes dry rot, so don't go off half cocked with a statement that you don't care -- I'll be more than happy to take the property off your hands. LOL!

If you have no agreement concerning the house, then you are joint tenants, however you have agreed to leave. Thus, you are entitled to one half of fair market rental value from your spouse, and you are responsible for one half of the repair cost to the property while you are away. Your spouse, as co-owner and tenant, has a duty not to permit the property to fall into disrepair. This is legally termed: "waste," so if she refuses to pay her half for the repair, then you must repair it and demand reimbursement. If neither of you do anything, and you both ask for reimbursement later, you will be coming to the court with what is known as "unclean hands," in the transaction, and the court will refuse to grant either one of you any relief. You will be left with no solution, and you will get whatever you get for the sale of the house.

Simple as that.

mistoffolees