Can I keep my house?

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Can I keep my house?

My girlfriend broke up with me and kicked me out of the house. We have 2 kids together and the house is in my name, not hers. She claims we are selling the house and have lived in it together for 10 years. Mortgage was mostly paid out of my bank account over those years. Can she force my hand in the selling of the house? Also, is letting her live there while I am staying elsewhere going to come back to bite me? I live in the State of Missouri. Thanks in advance.

Asked on June 13, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Being a "girlfriend" is not a legally recognized staus such as being a spouse is. Therefore, under the law, she has no legal rights to the house. It is in your name only, therefore you are the sole owner. This is true even if you have moved out. That having been said, since you indicte that you made "most of the mortgage payments", I take that to mean that she made some of them as well. Therefore your ex-girflriend has now attained the legal status of "tenant" since any money she paid toward the mortgage can be considered to be a form of rent. Accordingly, in order to legally get her out of the house you will need to file for a "unlawful detainer" action (i.e. an eviction). In the meantime do nothing to force her out such as changing the locks, etc. Otherwise you can find yourself att he wrong end of a lawsuit. At this point, you may want to consult directly with a local attorney who handles real estate matters as they can best advise you further. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Living with for 10 years, being your girlfriend, and being the mother of your children does NOT give her any rights to own the house if it is titled  in your name only: legally, it is *your* house, and you can do with it as you wish (i.e. live in it, sell it, rent it out, etc.). A "girlfriend" is not a legal relationship, like a spouse, and does not convey any rights. (Since you are the father of her children, if they live with her not you, you will have to pay child support presumably, but that does not affect the home.)
Letting her stay there with permission while you are elsewhere will *not* give her any rights to the home, but if she does not leave voluntarily when you ask her to, you will need to bring a lawsuit against her for "ejectment" to remove her ("ejectment" is eviction for people whom you'd let stay there but are not rent-paying tenants); you will not be able to remove her other than through the courts.


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