Ho to

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Ho to

We have been together 15 years. We are not legally married, though all of our accounts are joint and he introduces me as his wife. We got a house. Both our names are on the deed of sale. It says we are joint tenants with common law rights of survivorship. The mortgage is still active. Only his name is on the mortgage. Well, the relationship is ending. He is saying I have no right to the house. Also, he is threatening to kick me out. Despite being a homemaker, I am the one who made the house possible via selling things for the downpayment and moving costs. I also take care of all repairs, all cleaning, and assure that all bills are paid, including the mortgage. I do not have a significant personal income, however who owns the house? Can he throw me out? Also, are we common law married?

Asked on July 24, 2019 under Family Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your state (Virginia) does not have common law marriage (it will recognize a common law marriage validly created in a state that does have them, but VA residents cannot enter into common law marriage). Therefore, you are not a spouse and have no rights as spouse.
If you are on the deed as joint tenants, you are a co-owner of the house and have equal rights to the home (to live in it; to get the equity or proceeds when it is sold; and to bring a legal action, called an action for "partition," to force a sale if you want) as he does. That he is the only one on the mortgage means only that he, not you, has to pay the mortgage and can be sued by the lender if he does not; it is the deed, however, not the mortgage, that determines ownership. So you are an owner of the home, cannot be kicked out of it, and are entitled to half its value. 
Your income also is irrelevant to ownership; all that matters is that you are the deed as joint tenant with right of survivorship (which also means that if he passes away before you, you become the home's sole owner).

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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