In some respects, it’s easier to divorce your spouse than it is to get your ex-boyfriend out of your home when your relationship has died. At least divorce has clear-cut rules, but legally removing your ex depends on a variety of factors and some of them fall into gray areas. One thing is certain: if you take action such as locking him out without first consulting with an attorney, you could find yourself in a lot of hot water.
Terms of the Lease
You must have a legal right to possess the residence before you can take action to make your ex leave. If you own your home and your name is on the deed, you’re in the clear. But if you’re renting, your name must appear on your lease as the tenant, and it's much better if your ex's name isn't on it. If he also has a right to possess the property because he’s your co-tenant, the easiest recourse may be to relocate yourself if you don’t want to live with him any longer. You both have a legal right to the dwelling.
Assuming you’re the only one with a legal right to be there, you may be able to charge your ex with trespassing if he doesn’t leave your home voluntarily. You can call the police, but the officers may be reluctant to charge him. He’s there because you once wanted him to be and you gave him permission to live with you. In some states, inviting him to live in your home makes him a “licensee” and this gives him a right to stay there, particularly if you’ve lived together for a long time. Your odds of successfully pressing trespassing charges might increase if you give him written notice to vacate, including a reasonable date by which he should move out. If he doesn’t go by this date, you can call law enforcement and hope for the best. It’s also possible that your landlord can charge your ex-boyfriend with trespassing if he refuses to go.
Initiating eviction proceedings can be even more complicated than charging your ex with trespassing. You can typically do this only if you have legal status as your boyfriend’s “landlord.” This might be the case if you have some sort of written agreement with him, detailing his obligation to help you with the rent or mortgage and setting rules for what should happen if your relationship ends. Even as his landlord, however, you would need some legal basis to evict him, such as that your agreement said he had to go under the circumstances or that he’s failed to pay you. “I don’t love him anymore” won’t be sufficient. After you’ve established grounds, you can file a petition for eviction with your local court and have him officially served with a copy. The court will schedule a hearing and you and your ex will both have an opportunity to plead your case to the judge. If he hasn’t done anything wrong and if he’s lived with you for some considerable time, this could get dicey without the help of a legal professional.
A Restraining Order
If your ex poses a threat to you, you can ask the police or your local court for a restraining order. In most states, if you have a compelling case, a judge will issue a temporary restraining order directing your ex to leave your residence and stay away from you. This can often be accomplished without your ex even appearing in court. But the order is temporary. It lasts only a week or two until the next scheduled court hearing where your boyfriend can defend himself and try to convince the court that he’s not a threat to you. If he’s unsuccessful, the judge will give you a permanent restraining order and he must leave your residence for good.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.