What are my rights if I co-own a house with my ex but I’m not allowed to live in it?

I bought a house and put mine and my girlfriend’s names on the deed. I was removed for domestic abuse and she now lives there. I paid $100 of the cost of the house. Can I get her out of the house or get her to pay me the value of the house? I was removed 7 years ago.

Asked on March 18, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Maine

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A co-owner of property can force a sale. In cases in which joint owners cannot agree as to ownership matters, the party who wants to sell can go to court and file for an action in “partition”. This is a legal tool used in this type of situation. 
A partition of property can be accomplished either by its physical division, if practical, or by a sale. In the case of a single family residence, physical division isn't possible so a "partition by sale" will ordered.
Once the property is sold, the proceeds are equitably distributed to the owners. That having been said, the court will first permit the owner who does not want to sell, the right to purchase the interest of the other co-owner for fair market value.
It should be noted, however, that filing for partition is costly and time-consuming. Try to explain this to your ex-girlfriend. Also, at this point, you may want to consult directly with a local real estate lawyer; they can best advise you further.


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