In a Divorce, Who Gets Custody of the Master Bedroom?

Who should stay and who should get (another) room?

Dear Monica,
I am getting divorced after a 25 year marriage. I think my husband should move out of the master bedroom until he finds his own place. He won’t budge. Should I move out? —K.I., Philadelphia, PA

The master bedroom is the most coveted room in the house when it comes to divorce. It is where the clothes, make-up, and jewelry are housed and — if it means anything — it is where the kids were conceived. Both parties feel that this room is home base until one of them eventually leaves the house. Who moves out of the master depends on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. Here are my thoughts on how this should play out.

  • The rat who is cheating gets the boot. The master goes to the spouse who is true.
  • If she happens upon his secret stash of condoms and she is on the pill, the master is hers.
  • If she starts shopping for sexy dresses to wear to her high school reunion after announcing that she wants a divorce, the master goes to the man.
  • If the divorce is amicable, the master goes to the woman. Chivalry need not die with the union.
  • If the reason for the split is that you “grew apart” or at least that is what you are telling people, the man should vacate the master. This keeps your version of the story believable.
  • The person who initiates the divorce, regardless of the reason, should leave the master. After all if you are leaving the union, you should also leave the bedroom.
  • The spouse who owns the house, if it is not in both of their names, should keep the master.
  • The spouse who changes their password on their cell, e-mail and Facebook account leaves the master.
  • If his mother is over 24/7 to be with him and the kids after you are separated, the master goes to the woman for the agita alone!
  • The first one who goes MIA for the night leaves the master!

The master bedroom symbolizes a union between two people. When that union is eroded, somebody has to be the bigger person and move to the guest room. The woman wants the master as a matter of principle, and — let’s face it — it has the better closets and bathroom. The man wants the master for the comfortable mattress and better TV set.

When one spouse has clearly crossed the line, it is a no-brainer who should leave. Where both of you agree to split, the man should be a gentleman and vacate the master. If he has a man-cave he can always take up residence there!

Monica Mandell, Ph.D. is the Director of the Philadelphia office of Selective Search, the premiere (off-line) upscale matchmaking firm for the most eligible singles.  Please send your questions to: