If my common law ex-fiance and I got a house together and it was only in his name but we both paid the bills for 3 1/2 years, can I sue for my half of the accrued equity?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If my common law ex-fiance and I got a house together and it was only in his name but we both paid the bills for 3 1/2 years, can I sue for my half of the accrued equity?

It was due to no fault of mine I was forced to leave an abusive situation and now I had to move and now he says he owes me nothing from the house we picked out and acquired the house together all of my income in that time was put back into the household. We purchased our house for $180,000 almost four yrs ago and equity of house is $120,000 or more just equity. I’m not asking for what he put down on house or for his half of the equity. Just $60,000 or what would be my half of the 3 1/2 years I invested in what I thought was our home. Now me and my 10 year old son have no where to go no money to move into a new place. Not to mention my son horribly terrified of my ex from watching him abuse and hit on and attacking me in front of him. There was a domestic charge in which he was found guilty of during this 3 1/2 years also. What are my legal rights under common law?

Asked on April 7, 2018 under Family Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You ask about your your "common law ex-fiance," but there is no such thing as a "common law ex-fiance." More generally, "fiance" is not a legally recognized relationship: being a fiance does not entitle you to anything; being a finance is, legally speaking, no different than just dating casually.
If you met the critera to be considered common-law *married*, you may be entitled to support and a share of the assets acquired during the relationship, but for this, you and he had to both agree you were married and "hold yourself out" to the world as married--basically, call each other husband/wife in public and act as if married. If you told people you were engaged or called him your fiance or said you were going to get married in the future, you would not be common law married; and if not common law married, you may not have entitlement to a share of assets (like the home) in his name only or to support for him. If you child is his, however, your child would certainly be entitled to child support. 
Because it may be critical whether you can make a case for being common law married, you are *strongly* urged to consult with a family law attorney, who can evaluate you situation, advise you of your rights to assets and support, help you with child support (and if not from this person, then from the child's father, whomever that is, if you are not receiving it), and if you are worried about abuse, getting you a protective order.

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