My wife and I are heading for divorce. Her two adult children (my step children) continue to live in our marital home.
Can I evict them from my house?
I do not practice in California. Therefore, I cannot inform you as to the specific laws of California.
You and your wife are most likely considered co-tenants of the home you live in, and you both have equal rights to the property. Without a written agreement otherwise, one of you cannot unilaterally evict tenants or guests without the other’s permission.
Because the two of you are not in agreement about the children living there, you will likely need court intervention if you want to evict your step children, whether you are divorcing or not.
In many states, when filing for divorce, the parties often request a Temporary Orders hearing to determine how property can be managed during the pendency of the divorce. If the Judge awards one party the exclusive control of the residence, they can determine who can live there and who cannot.
If, in this situation, you were awarded exclusive control of the home, you could begin evicting your step children.
If your step children pay rent or contribute to the bills in some way, they may be considered tenants, and tenants must be formally evicted. Every state has different requirements regarding eviction. Most states require 60-90 days formal notice, which usually takes the form of a letter sent by certified mail.
You should check with an attorney licensed in California to determine the requirements in your state. If your step-children do not contribute in any way, they are likely guests, and can be evicted without notice.
Rachel A. Brucks is a Staff Attorney in the Fort Worth, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Brucks is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Brucks received her Bachelors degrees in English and Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her Masters in Literature and Gender Studies from Texas State University, San Marcos; and received her Juris Doctor from Southern Methodists University, Dallas.