Washington, DC asked in Divorce and Child Custody for Maryland

Q: My ex girlfriend and I live together with our two kids.It’s my house in my name. What rights does she have?

I want her to move out. I pay everything and the kids have my last name. What are my rights

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You have two issues: a landlord/tenant issue, and a custody/child support issue. If there's domestic violence going on, that is a potential third issue, or one which could arise based on how she reacts to whatever it is you do about the first two issues. The good news is (for you), you are not married to her. She has no monetary interest or rights to your home. What she does have is a guest resident status since she is a consensual resident in your home (at least the consent existed at some point in time). You can't lock her out (legally). You must serve a written notice on her to move out and vacate. Date and save a copy. You can then go to landlord-tenant court and file an action for "wrongful detainer" and have a judgment and writ issued to evict her. The Sheriff schedules a date with you to cary out the eviction, and they, not you, put her out. You should change the locks the same day.

Landlord-tenant court does not resolve custody issues. You are putting out the mother of your children. Do you expect her to leave without them? Do you plan on putting them all out of their home with nowhere to go, or just her, and how do you propose that will work out? You will need to obtain custody first, and in the absence of an agreement or a domestic violence order that places them with you, the process for getting a hearing to award even temporary ("pendente lite") custody will not happen over night.

Beware that if she has grounds to allege that you assaulted her, or threatened to assault her, she can go down to the courthouse and obtain an immediate order for protection from domestic violence that will order you, not her, out of your house, and award her temorary custody and child support of your kids. You have the same rights to file against her. The initial order will hold until there's a trial in 7-14 days, when the merits of continuing the order will be decided.

The ideal scenario is to try and get her to negotiate a separation and parting of ways, in writing, that addresses where the kids will live and the custody and visitation rights of both of you. There are family law mediators who you can pay if you can get her to go into mediation. It may even be worth paying her money to get into an apartment so as to get her out sooner and without litigation or other legal costs and attorney's fees. Sit down with a family law attorney and review what it is you want, and try to outline a strategy to get there, in the most reasonable way possible both financially and emotionally (for you and for your children).

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