Q: My employer’s son bought a house a few years ago, and his name is the only one on the deed. He recently moved his girlfriend in with him. If she decides to leave after a few years, and her name is never put on the mortgage or the deed, can she legally take anything in the house that’s not hers? Or, can she somehow get part of the value of the house if it is sold?

A: If her name is not on the title to the property and has not contributed at all to the property financially, she does not own the property and should not be entitled to any portion of the proceeds if it is sold. But her rights might be affected by the state in which they live. If they live together long enough in some states, she can be considered his common law wife and will have rights to the home.

Aside from the house itself, she may have some ownership interests in other things in the house. For example, if she bought a refrigerator for the house, she might well be entitled to take that with her when she moves. If she takes a faucet that came as part of the house, she is probably overstepping her bounds.

Please ask your employer to consult with a real estate attorney who can perhaps help his son explore his legal options.