Divorce and Leaving the House

Rumors abound of marital discord between Melania and President Trump. Generally, couples fight over who stays and leaves the house during a divorce. What if the marital home is the White House should the First Lady move out?

Meet the Trumps

Some people are claiming the issue of vacating the marital house is uncharted territory for a sitting president (assuming they divorce), since no American president has ever gotten a divorce while in office.

Usually, both spouses are entitled to stay in the marital home. However, staying in the home can be denied if a spouse is damaging it, or the children are exposed to domestic violence, for instance.

However, Donald Trump doesn’t have a deed to the White House, it’s not his property. The White House is owned by the people of the United States of America.

There’s also the issue of presidential security. Having an estranged spouse in the White House may make the Secret Service uneasy if there were divorce proceedings.

Housing Issues

I’ve written about the marital house during a divorce before. Generally, the home remains a marital asset, which is subject to equitable distribution, regardless of who lives there during the divorce process.

If a home is marital then both parties have equal rights to buy – out the other’s share. Both may also be on the hook for liabilities.

Children’s Issues

Until a divorce parenting plan in place, if you are interested in maintaining a meaningful relationship in your child’s life, leaving the home before a timesharing agreement is entered may show a lack of real interest in the child’s daily life.

Moving out can create the appearance of a new ‘primary residential parent’ by default. Worse, if the process takes a long time, it creates a new status quo.


The person leaving during a divorce may still have to contribute for the expenses of the home while also paying for a new home. It can be costly, and prohibitive expensive when you know that the process will take a long time.


Staying in the same home could create an incentive to negotiate a final settlement because living with your soon to be ex-spouse is very uncomfortable. However, if someone moves out, the person remaining in the home is sitting pretty and may be less inclined to settle.

If you Leave

Before moving out, there should be some discussions about maintaining the home and who is paying for which expenses, an inventory should be made of the personal property, artwork, silverware etc., and the boundaries for when the ‘out-spouse’ can use and enjoy the home after vacation

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Because both sides during a divorce have a right to live in a “jointly titled home” during divorce, except for extreme circumstances such as domestic violence, the First Lady should have no trouble.

However, the White House is part of the President’s compensation package for serving as President of the United States. If so, it is President Trump’s right to live there and not his spouse’s.

They could also both live in White House. The White House is built big enough that Melania would have an entire room, bedroom, almost a wing, just for herself.

Having been burned down by the British, the White House could easily handle divorcing spouses. Right?

The Daily News article is here.