What are my rights if my fiance with whom I have shared a home with for 15 years, wants to throw me out?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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What are my rights if my fiance with whom I have shared a home with for 15 years, wants to throw me out?

I have paid for utilities and all house hold expenses and have had some in my name. We have ran the household as a team for 15 years and he has implied that I am his wife in all definitions of the word. We have been having problems and I have had 2 strokes which have caused me to be partially disabled. I am in the process of filing for SSI which takes some time. My fiance is an alcoholic it is documented by the courts system and not just hearsay on my part and he is trying to toss me and our animals into the street. Since we have ran a house hold together for 15 years wouldn’t he have to evict me, so I have some time to find a new home? He has denied me access to my home and my medications which is dangerous to my health. I need some honest advice about what my rights are since although he has asked me to marry him 3 times in the past, I preferred to just be engaged.

Asked on August 22, 2019 under Family Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) If you are are on the title of the home (if it is owned) or on the lease (if it is rented), he cannot remove you: you have equal rights as him to live there.
2) However, if the home is owned or rented solely in his name, then legally you are a "guest"--somone who has no enforceable right to possession of the home and can only stay there so long as the owner or tenant allows you to. In this case, he can remove you.
3) However, while he can remove you, he cannot simply throw or lock you out; if he does, go to your county court and file an action for "unlawful detainer" to get a court order allowing you (temporarily) back in. Someone who had been allowed to live in the home (as opposed to a trespasser) cannot be removed by the homeowner or tenant, but must be removed by the court after proper notice and a hearing. So if you currently have been locked out, you can get back in, at least until he brings the proper legal action to remove you (see below). You also have the right to retrieve your possessions: you could bring an action for "unlawful distraint" at the same time that you bring the unlawful detainer action to get them.
3) The above said, if you are not a co-owner or -tenant, he can remove you. First he'd need provide you written notice and a reasonable time (typically a month, give or take) to move out; then, if you don't move out, he'd need to bring a kind of legal action traditionally called an action "for ejectment" (your state may have a different name for it) to get a court order removing you from the home.
4) That you ran the household as a team or that he "implied" that you were his wife is, unfortunately, irrelevant: your state does not recognize or have common law marriage--either you were married formally or you are unmarried. And if unmarried, you have no rights to any of his property (or to live in his home) unless you are also on the title to it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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