UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022
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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).
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