Can a spouse be prevented from entering the marital home before the divorce is final?

Exclusive possession of the marital residence in PA

In Pennsylvania, both spouses have a right to be in and on property that is owned or rented jointly by the parties unless a PA family court judge enters an order which prohibits one of the spouses from entering the marital residence. There are only two types of orders through family court that can compel a person to vacate a jointly owned or occupied residence – a Protection from Abuse order due to some type of domestic violence including spousal abuse or an order for exclusive possession or exclusive occupancy of the marital residence. If there has been actual or threatened domestic violence, a protection from abuse (PFA) order may be entered by the court which can remove the defendant from the residence for up to three years.

If a PA divorce complaint is filed (whether or not a divorce decree has been issued) and both spouses continue to occupy the same residence, either spouse can request an exclusive possession of the marital home order if they can prove that the conditions in the household are intolerable for the spouse or children. If either spouse is locked out of the house without an appropriate order from the local Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland or other county family court judge that has the authority to hear the dispute, the spouse locked out can take action to regain entry to the marital property.

Contact our PA divorce lawyers to learn your legal rights.  Generally speaking, it is advisable to speak with a Pennsylvania divorce attorney and negotiate with the other spouse and/or his or her lawyer which spouse will continue to occupy the residence during the separation or divorce process rather than face the potential for eviction from the residence through a court order. However, vacating the residence prior to consulting with your Pennsylvania family law lawyer is not advisable as vacating the residence may have an impact upon child custody, child or spousal support, alimony pendente lite (APL) and alimony as well as other issues.

Our lawyers accept family law cases in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Armstrong County (Kittanning), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Somerset County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg). Our attorneys accept Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County (New Castle), Mercer County, and Venango County on a case-by-case basis.


The statements in this section are based on Pennsylvania law and have been issued to inform and not advise. The statements are general in nature and individual facts in a given case may alter their application or involve other laws not referred to here.

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