Evicting a Domestic Partner After Splitting Up

Breaking up with a domestic partner is never easy. Getting them to leave the residence or apartment you shared can be even more difficult. The options and remedies available for your situation will depend on the laws of the state where you reside. Start by reviewing two main areas of state law: domestic partnership law and landlord-tenant laws.

Domestic Partnerships

Many states still do not have domestic partnership laws. For those that do, there may be different remedies outside of traditional tenancy situations. Domestic partnerships give same sex or elderly couples a way to enjoy many, if not all, of the protections and benefits of a traditional marriage.

When the relationship breaks down, the remedies available are very similar to divorce proceedings. To get the benefits of laws affecting the dissolution of a domestic partnership, you must have previously filed the proper paperwork to legally establish a domestic partnership.

Once you establish that you can apply for a dissolution of a domestic partnership, you can petition the family law court to award you exclusive possession of your home or residence. You can also request the court to order your domestic partner to sign the appropriate paperwork to get the residence into your name only.

For example, you and your domestic partner purchased a home together. The court can award you the house and order your former partner to sign a warranty deed that terminates their future interest in the home. Keep in mind, that just because the court can award you possession, does not mean that they will.

Legally-Awarded Possession of a Home

To establish that you should be awarded the residence, consult with a family law attorney and learn what factors the court will consider to divide property. Factors that are generally considered by courts to award possession of a home include:

  • When the home was purchased.
  • How much you contributed to the purchase of the residence
  • The financial abilities of both parties to pay any outstanding notes on the home
  • Special medical or physical conditions affected by the award of the home.
  • The need for a permanent residence for any children adopted during the relationship.

If you owned the residence prior to formation of the domestic partnership, you have a better chance of being awarded possession of the residence. If your home was purchased during the domestic partnership by both parties having an equal interest, the court will use the factors above to divide the property, thereby excluding the other partner. The disadvantage of being awarded a residence is that the court can also require you to buy out your partner’s interest in the property.

Not a Legal Domestic Partnership

If you are not in a formal domestic partnership or in a state that recognizes domestic partnerships, you may be limited to traditional landlord-tenant remedies. Just like with family law, each state has its own set of rules regarding landlord-tenants and eviction. Generally, the process begins with a simple demand to leave.

If your domestic partner does not comply with the verbal request, follow-up with a specific written demand to leave by a particular date. Laws vary on what is considered reasonable notice, but one or two days notice is usually not sufficient.

If your partner continues to live in the residence, you can then file a petition with your local justice of the peace or small claims court to formally evict your partner. If they still persist in remaining, you can then seek the assistance of law enforcement to have them formally removed.

Joint-ownership of the Home

If you own the home jointly with your domestic partner, the situation is a bit more complicated. You cannot evict a co-owner. You must file a suit to dissolve the joint tenancy. Even if you can reach an agreement about who is going to live in the property, you may still want to bring a court action to have the joint tenancy legally and permanently severed.

To avoid the issues associated with dividing property under any of the above options, you may want to consult with an attorney before you enter into the domestic partnership so they can help you prepare a written and enforceable agreement protecting ones right to sole possession of the residence in the event the relationship should ever end.