Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
My boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend purchased a home together 10 years ago, both names are on the deed and the mortgage. He left the house two years ago when she declined to buy the house outright or to accept a buyout. He has been paying half the mortgage and the taxes each month since he left. She is currently still living in the house and paying the other half of the mortgage and taxes. She has changed the locks and he has not had access to his house or his belongings that are still there. The house is currently listed with a realtor, but she is denying showings and making it almost impossible to have the house shown. I want the house sold and my connection to her and it gone, is there anything an attorney can do to help me in this process? We are in New York state if that matters. Does he have any legal rights?
The short answer is yes. As a co-owner, he ultimately has the right to demand partition of the property. Partition is the legal process by which co-owners get separated from each other; in the case of residential real estate, this normally would involve selling the property and splitting the proceeds (possibly with some adjustments if, for example, one co-owner contributed more than the other).
While partition itself can be a fairly long and expensive process,the good thing about it is that it is fairly predictable. Which means that it rarely happens, since both parties (or at least their attorneys) realize that they’re better off coming to an agreement than incurring the expense of litigation.
So yes, an attorney can help you. First, by making it clear that you’re willing to sue for partition, the attorney can usually put together a deal by which the property is sold. And if that fails, the attorney can actually file the partition action for you.