If I co-own the house with someone, is there any way to get their name off of it?

We have been together for 17 years at one time were engaged to be married. We purchased the house in both of our names but things didn’t work out with the relationship put the cart before the horse. We both still live in the home but he is now disabled, doesn’t work I pay all of the bills including the mortgage, taxes, etc… He has a son that lives in Alabama who stated that when his father dies, he’ll finally be able to get out of his financial hole. I asked him what he meant by that he said, ‘oh, I was just thinking out loud’. Now I’m worried that if something does happen to him, I’ll wind up losing my home that I have lived in paid on for 14 years 30 yr. mortgage. Is there anything that I can do to protect myself before something happens to him??

Asked on July 23, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

One property owner does not have the right to take another owner's name off of the deed or even remove them off of the property. In a situation wherein owners of jointly held property cannot agree as to ownership matters the law provides the remedy of "partition". In this type of action, the court will order that the property sold if possible. If it is not (such as in the case of a single family house), it will order a "sale in lieu of partition" instead. Accordingly, the property will be put on the market and sold for fair market value. The proceeds will then be distributed equitably. However, before that, any owner who wants to keep the property can buy out the other owner(s).

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Neither you nor he (nor his son or any other heir/beneficiary, after he passes) can force the other one out of the home, take the other's name off the deed, or sell the house without the other's consent--or without a court order. The owner of real estate cannot be made to give up his/her rights to the property against his or her will, and all owners have equal rights to the property.
The only thing that either of you can do is bring a legal action traditionally called an action "for ejectment" (though your state may have a different name for it)--a lawsuit which an owner asks the court to order that the property be sold, and that the proceeds of the sale (after paying costs of sale and paying off any mortgage or liens) be split between the owners. That is the law's recourse when you and an owner cannot agree about what to do with property--to get a court-ordered sale to each get your money and go your separate ways.

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