As Philadelphia family law attorneys we encounter quite a few clients who have vacated the marital home but who continue to make payments on that home. They want to know if they can charge their exes rent so they can offset those costs.
As with most questions pertaining to the law, the answer is a solid, “it depends.” But Pennsylvania law does make some allowances for this situation through the use of a rental credit that can be applied during the equitable distribution of marital property.
The rental credit is not the same as charging your spouse rent.
Your ex won’t be writing you a check directly. Rather, the value of the credit would be taken into consideration as an amount your ex has already received from his or her share of the marital property.
Keep in mind this wouldn’t impact other payments like spousal support or child support. It would be applied to shares of equity in a home or business, to retirement savings or other property which judges would be divvying up between you and your spouse.
The rental credit is not necessarily equal to the amount of the mortgage payments.
You won’t “get back” every dime you’ve paid in. You also won’t necessarily receive the market value that you might have received by renting the property to a stranger. The actual credit can be impacted by a number of factors, including:
- The level of vested interest you have in the home.
- The amount of time you lived in the home.
- Any expenditures your ex incurred to maintain the property.
- The number of other adults living in the home.
Finally, you have to have a right to live in the home in the first place. If you are named in a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order and that order forbids you from going inside the house then you would not be able to claim rental credits for any time covered by that order.
Rental credits are just a tool in the toolbox.
When a judge awards rental credits he or she is doing so in the service of equitable distribution. He or she may use other tools if they are more appropriate. Thus, rental credits are not guaranteed even if you are paying a mortgage on a house you don’t live in. Ultimately, whatever the judge lands on may even benefit you more than those credits, especially if you have a skilled, passionate family law attorney on your side.
Thus, we encourage you to focus on pushing towards the best and most advantageous divorce settlement for your circumstances, rather than getting fixated on rental credits. It’s a tool in our toolbox too, one we can us in negotiations to move your divorce towards final resolutions.
Got questions? Ready to move forward with your divorce? Contact Sadek and Cooper today to get started.