I am about to leave my husband and move into an apartment (because he refuses to leave). We have owned our home for 17 years. I do not want to walk away from this investment with nothing. Is it considered abandonment if I leave the residence and let him live here? Do I forfeit any monetary rights I have to this house if I am the one to move? I don't want to stick it to him and make him refinance to 'buy me out' right now because I know he can't afford a higher house payment but I do not want to lose out down the road if he should happen to sell or is in a better financial place to refinance with cash to pay me half. (I live in Vermont)
Also, neither of us can afford a lawyer right now. Would it be legally binding if we drew up our own document outlining agreements that we come to (like my vested interest in the house and any support that he says he will give me) and sign, would that hold up in court if things got nasty down the road? Right now we he is being civil but that could change at a moment's notice.