Shoulda co-tenant pay some part of the rentif theyleft the apartment before expiration of the lease?

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Shoulda co-tenant pay some part of the rentif theyleft the apartment before expiration of the lease?

My ex-wife and I have signed the 5-years residential lease and agreed to share the rent. 4 months later, she moved out to pursue her happiness, she said. Before she left, we have privately divided our physical assets and she presented me with the divorce papers and court calendar. Then, however, she somewhat by-passed this calendar and obtained divorce without my consent and my signature. For this reason, our assets and liabilities were never settled in court. I’m on fixed income, and really struggle to pay the whole rent. She refuses to contribute because she lives now elsewhere. There is not a special provision in the lease that would cover this matter. Is she responsible for some part of rent even when she doesn’t live now in the leased apartment? Can I sue her for breach of contract? What chance I would have to get an enforceable judgment?

Asked on July 1, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If she is on the lease, she is also responsible for the rent. Whether or not she lives there is irrelevant; it is signing the lease which obligates her. You may be able to, then, sue her for her contribution, subject only to any provisions in the divorce decrree which may have indemnified her from this cost.

You may wish to consult with a family or matrimonial law attorney about the divorce: you should make sure that all procedures were followed, that the ex-wife did not lie to the court to get a favorable settlement, that the divorce is legal, that you had some chance to represent your interests, etc. If the divorce were obtained improperly, you may be able to appeal or vacate it.


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