If I live with someone that I am not married to, what to do if he decides he wants the relationship to end and our house is only in his name?

I live with a man that I am not legally married to. However we do live together as man and wife in every aspect except that we are not legally married. Recently we purchased a home (actually he purchased the home because the mortgage is in his name only). I do contribute to the household financially and would like to protect myself from being thrown out into the streets if he ever decides he wants to end the relationship. My family has advised me that I could simply go to the court house and have my name added to the deed. I don’t know if this is possible without having it added to the mortgage as well. I do not make enough money to be added to the mortgage. Plus, if I do this and he ever defaults on the loan, won’t I be held responsible if my name is on the deed? At any rate I would just like to know what legal route I can go to protect myself.

Asked on June 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Your family is wrong--living with someone and even paying some of the household expenses does NOT give you an ownership interest in the home.The only way to acquire some interest in the home if via some agreement under which you purchase it (even if over time, rather than all at once) or by being gifted with an interest. However, it is voluntary on the owner's part to either let you purchase an interest or to give you one--there is no way to make the man you live with do these things.

You are right to be worried; from what you write, you have no protection against being evicted, since he owns the home and is the  mortgagor--i.e. you have no interest in the home. At most, you seem to be a tenant under an oral (unwritten lease), which means you could be made to leave on 30 days notice.

To protect yourself, you either need to be married or to have some written agreement with him which gives you rights. You should speak with a family law attorney about such options to protect yourself.

You also should make sure you have enough savings and enough of an income that if you are asked to leave, you could at least rent someplace to live.

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