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What do I do when getting divorced?

Divorce is very common in the United States and people are more likely to get divorced than getting heart disease. While some divorces are more complicated than others, its important to notify your landlord right away so they know a head of time. This gives them an opportunity to prepare and go over the appropriate steps given your circumstance.

If both parties are acting civil towards one another, then the process to remove one party from the lease may be as simple as having both parties sign an addendum. The landlord may require the remaining party to submit paystubs or reapply to verify that they can afford the rent on their own. In the event that the remaining person will be receiving child support to help them pay rent, the tenant may have to wait until they get the divorce decree before this process can be completed.

However, if things are tense between the two parties, it can complicate things quite a bit. Both people are on the lease and until one is removed, they both have a right to live in the property. Usually, there isn’t anything the landlord can to in this circumstance because in order to remove one person, they would have to have a signed addendum. One exception to this would be if the lease was on a month to month term or coming up for renewal. If this is the case, the landlord may be able to serve one party with a notice to move out. The length of the notice depends on local laws and the terms of the lease agreement, but it could remove them from the lease indirectly.

This can complicate things between the two parties especially if there is a lot of hostility or abuse. The best thing to do at this point is to get the police involved and to file a restraining order that will prohibit the other party from returning to the home. If they violate the restraining order, legal action may be taken against them depending on local laws.

Changing the locks may not help. In some areas, this may be considered an illegal eviction and the other party may be able to take legal action against the tenant who rekeyed the locks.

While there may be a restraining order in place, as long as both parties are on the lease, then both are responsible to adhere to the terms of the lease. This is important because if one party is living in the home and you don’t have yourself removed from the lease, you could be held responsible for any damages that are caused by the other party.

The best thing for a tenant to do when getting divorced is to let the landlord know right away and try to remove the other party from the lease as quickly as possible.  The can also try to find a way to terminate the lease, but this usually requires the landlords consent. Severing the connection both parties have to the property reduces the risk that the other person could cost you a lot of money in physical or contractual damages.


Tenants Guide to Divorce - by