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Deadbolts and deadbeats

If you change the locks when your spouse moves out, be prepared to pay some rent.

In McIlwain v. McIlwain, the Court of Appeals today upheld an award to a wife of one-half the fair market rental value of a couple’s home for the six-year period after she moved out.

The Hanover County couple owned the jointly titled home outright, so there was no mortgage obligation. When wife left in 2001, the husband “changed the deadbolt locks on the doors and insisted that wife come to the home only with prior notice to him and only while he was there.” The wife was “essentially pushed out of the marital home,” wrote Judge Randy Beales.

The wife had to pay rent and eventually buy her own home.

Then there was that matter with the IRS. The husband had failed to pay family income taxes for several years, filing tax returns but neglecting to enclose checks.

The wife got credit for payments she made from her separate funds to reduce the marital tax debt, but the appellate court said the divorce court erred in giving wife credit for tax payments made from marital funds, and remanded for recalculation of the monetary award.
By Deborah Elkins

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