Separation and Divorce

Separation of Common-Law Couples: Who Stays in the Family House?


You just broke up with the person you were living with, and you weren’t married. Who can stay in the house? Who has to leave?

Important! This article is about homes that are owned. For the rules about family homes that are rented, read our article Separation of Common-Law Partners: Who Stays in a Rented Family Home?

Owner’s Right to Stay in the House After Separation

1. Only One Person Owns the Home

After a separation, the person who owns the home is allowed to decide whether the other person can stay or must leave.

Of course, the owner must use good judgment when exercising her rights as owner. For example, throwing someone out at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning might be considered abusive.

2. Both Partners Own the Home

The co-owners must decide together who will stay in the house and who will leave. As co-owners, they both have a right to stay and can’t force the other person to leave.

The person who leaves can try to claim financial compensation for not being able to use the house.

Forcing an Owner to Leave for the Sake of Children

If there are children involved, a non-owner or a co-owner can try to force the other person who owns or co-owns the house to leave it temporarily.

However, the person who wants the other one to leave must meet these conditions:

  • have custody of the children
  • show that it is in the children’s best interest for her to stay in the house
  • go to court to ask for permission to stay in the house and keep out the house’s owner or co-owner

Judges can refuse this type of request, even if the request to stay is only for a short time.