Can my long term boyfriend and the father of our children legally just throw me in the street with nothing?

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Can my long term boyfriend and the father of our children legally just throw me in the street with nothing?

My boyfriend and I have been living together for 12 years; we have 2 children. When we decided to have them he wanted me to stay home and raise them, so I quit my job and did that. Over the years he has worked and we acquired things like cars. I sold my home and moved into his and lived pretty good. Now we are seperating. I have nothing. Everything is in his name – bank accounts and all property. We are not married so no alimony can be asked for. He as the kids and I’m basically living in my car. He took my keys and put an alarm on the house; I will be arrested if I break-in. I have no family or place to stay, so I’m homeless with no money. He has my jewelry, clothes, family items from my deceased dad and pretty much everything I own. The plan was for me to go back to school once the kids were older which they are now they’re 7 and 8. Then we planned to open a business after my schooling. I have a long employment history in business. Can he legally just throw me in the street? I don’t want anything specific. I just don’t think I after 12 years that I should be living worse off then when we met. I did a lot to remodel the house and making it very nice. I took care of him and the kids so that he could work. I didn’t just lay around and do nothing. I helped him get to where he’s at. Can he legally do this?

Asked on August 4, 2019 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

While you should speak with a family law attorney to see if there are any grounds (e.g. "palimony") under which he might owe you compensation, be advised that you left yourself in a very vulnerable position. Generally, there are three ways that a significant other may owe you money or support, and/or that you may be entitled to a share of his assets:
1) You are married, since a homemaking/primary child care spouse is entitled to spousal support or alimony--but you are not married, and the laws and legal principles giving support to spouses do not apply to non-spouses as a general matter, no matter how long you were together.
2) If you were put on the title as joint owner of real estate or a bank account you'd be half owner of those things and entitled to half their value--but you were not put on the title or ownership of those things.
3) If you had some written agreement or contract that in exchange for you paying to remodel the house or taking care of the children you would get certan things or payment or support--but you don't mention any such agreement. 
You chose to stay in a relationship and quit your job for 12 years with someone who would neither marry you nor put on the title of his house or on a joint bank account. You did not have to to do that: you could have refused to quit your job; you could have insisted he put on the title if you were going to stay home or that he marry you, etc. By not doing something like that, you gave up your ability to support yourself without any guarantees from him or any easily enforced rights. So while it is worth you speaking to a family law attorney, since *sometimes* a non-spouse in a long-term relationship can receive some assets or support, you do need to bear in mind that left yourself about as economically vulnerable as you could.


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