Leaving an abusive home: How to protect your assets when you fear for your safety but rely on the ownership interest for your financial future.

Q: I pay half the mortgage on the home that I own with my boyfriend. I live there with him and our son. The title of the house is in my name, my boyfriend’s name and his father’s name. My boyfriend is abusive and I no longer feel safe in the home. I am afraid to leave the home because I would be “abandoning” the home and may lose my rights to it. How can I keep my ownership interest in the home while still moving out to a safe place?

Leaving an Abusive Home: First, Get Out Safely

A: Let’s start with this: Your life and the safety of your son are more important than losing rights to a property. It’s much more important for you and your son to move immediately to a safe place where you can live in a non-abusive environment. We don’t know what kind of cash or sweat equity you put into the home and how long you’ve lived there but safety first. Always. So, make a plan to get out, contact an attorney, and go.

But because money is on your mind, think about this: your ownership rights don’t end because you’ve moved out of the property. What’s happened is that your share of the home effectively becomes a second home or investment property, depending on what happens with your boyfriend and his father. They can’t take your name off of the title to the property legally without your consent.

If you contact a family law attorney to help you with your situation, which may include getting a court order to keep your boyfriend (and father of your child) a certain distance away from you, there is legal action that will protect your ownership interest in the home and any other property. This might include your bank accounts, and other personal property you might own together, including, perhaps a car.

How to Protect Your Assets When Leaving an Abusive Home

At the end of a relationship, women often want to hang onto the house they lived in during a relationship, especially if they have children. But if you don’t have a solid income, and you’re not getting enough child support, houses are often too expensive to hold onto in the end, and many women wind up losing them anyway, because they can’t afford to stay in them.

You should find a good attorney and discuss your concerns, both safety and financial. But at the end of the day, please remember that your safety and that of your son comes first. While your boyfriend can’t take you off the title to the home, you may find out the hard way that he can ruin your credit history. If you and he have a mortgage on the home and he fails to make the monthly mortgage payments, not only will his credit suffer, but your credit and his father’s credit will suffer. In one way, having his father on the title and, perhaps, on the mortgage, if you have one, may protect you from having him fail to make the mortgage payments.

You’ll have to monitor those mortgage payments to see if he makes them and, eventually, with the help of an attorney find a way to get you out of the ownership in the home, the mortgage and out of a bad situation.

If you don’t know where to turn, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233. You can also find confidential help and resources at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Department on Women’s Health (WomensHealth.gov).

Please let us know how you’re doing.

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