Suffering from Domestic Abuse? You can Stay in Your Home and Your Abuser can be Forced to Leave.

“I will have nowhere to go if I get a restraining order against my abuser.”

This is a phrase we have heard more than once.  People often wonder why other people who are suffering from domestic abuse remain with their abusers. There are many reasons for it, and this is definitely one of them. 

Even without a restraining order possibility, we hear from many people that their spouse or partner is the only person’s name on the mortgage or lease.  This makes them think that only the person’s whose name is on the mortgage or lease have legal rights to the property. We’ve gotten many calls where the caller is afraid they can just be kicked out of their home at any time because the person’s whose name is on the mortgage or lease told them during a fight that they could throw them out. 

We’ve heard this from married people as well as non-married couples.  

If you are married and you live at a house, apartment, condo, or anywhere else, your spouse cannot just throw you out.  If they change the locks on you, the police can help you get back in. Even if your name is not on the property. 

If you are not married and you reside in a house, apartment, condo, or anywhere else that is only in your partner’s name, you cannot just be thrown out of your residence.  Your partner would have to legally go through the eviction process to force you to move out. Now, this doesn’t mean that allowing it to get to that point is your best choice, but legally, that’s the route they would have to take in order to legally “throw you out.”

So, what does this mean for victims of domestic abuse?  A restraining order is a method of legal protection to keep you safe from abuse.  This protective order can order that the person you are suffering at the hands of cannot contact you or be near you.  A Restraining Order can include a paragraph that the abuser needs to stay away from your residence and your work.  

Your residence, for purposes of a restraining order, is where you live regardless of whether your name is actually on the mortgage or lease.  Be prepared to show that you get your mail at that address and that you’ve used that address for your bills, such as any utilities in your name or even your credit card bills.  That way, if they say you do not really live there, you have something to show the Judge that you do. If the Judge grants the restraining order, your abuser can be the person who is not able to come back to the home.  

If you are suffering at the hands of your partner, you do not have to continue to suffer solely because your name is not on the mortgage or lease or because you do not have anywhere else to go.

If you’re afraid of not being able to pay your bills if your partner is removed from your home due to a restraining order, you can ask the Judge to order that your partner continue paying all the household expenses that he or she paid prior to you obtaining the restraining order. 

The fear is real, but it’s important to know your rights because it’s very easy for someone to say, “It’s my house. If you don’t like it, get out.”  But they do not legally have the right to force you out. And if they are abusing you, they give up their right to remain in the home by doing so. You do not have to continue to be abused simply because your name is not on the property.  

If you are a victim of abuse, call 911 if you are in danger.  There are a number of domestic abuse hotlines available to you 24/7.  If you need legal help with obtaining a restraining order, please feel free to reach out to our firm.

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