A few weeks ago, the Reddit thread below went viral. And for good reason. It is the perfect example of how to use a lawyer to get yourself out of a bad relationship.
Two years ago my girlfriend and I had a small DV incident where I hit her. It was wrong of me. I completely owned it and apologized. I was incensed about something I found on her phone but that is absolutely not excuse. She left for a few days but didn’t call the cops. She eventually came back home. We finished out our lease and things were fine. We even moved to a better apartment earlier this year with the same landlord. My girlfriend insisted on handling the lease and making all the payments on everything, which is fine. I gave her the money for my half of the bills and keep asking her when I needed to sign the lease with her. She said there was no need and that the landlord hadn’t required it.
We were given permission to change the locks because the last tenant hadn’t returned a key. I was suppose to help coordinate that but my girlfriend offered to schedule the appointment with the landlord’s guy that was suppose to do that.
Things were fine in our new place for a few months but recently we have had a few spats. Nothing like two years ago. I never hit her again.
This morning when I left for work, everything seemed fine but I got a call from a lawyer friend of hers informing me that I had 45 days to move out of the apartment. I try to call her and can’t. I’m blocked on her phone. I leave work and go home and find her car gone and all her stuff gone. I call the landlord and he tells me that he had no idea I was living there, the lease is under her name only, only she signed it. He says that he isn’t my landlord, she is and I need to talk to her.
I call the lawyer back and he reiterates that I am a month to month subleaser and she has given me 45 days notice to find another place. He says she will continue to pay the rent but I am not to contact her or try to contact her. He gives me an official date to be out and that I should be served with a notice today by 12(noon) stating everything he just said.
He said the locks would be changed at the end of 45 days and that I would need to do a walk-through with him to make sure there is no damage.
He is saying that I could be liable for any damage and that someone of my girlfriend’s choosing would be given a key to check on the property but that I would be given notice of that check.
He is saying I need to have the power and internet turned on in my name today. He didn’t say that the power or internet would be shut off, but can they do that?
I have no idea what to do or where to go. This is my home.
I have some questions to what my rights are in the this situation.
Is she even allowed to have a lawyer do this for her? Do I have to do a walk-through with the lawyer? Can they just change the locks? Can I be charged for any damage? He didn’t mention paying my half of the rent to her, am I required to do that? Can I leave now? Would I be liable for the remainder of the rent?
Can she just do this?
The lawyer also stated that any attempt to contact her could result in the police being called. Could I get arrested?
All my stuff is here and untouched so I am not missing anything.
I am in the state of Arkansas. Northeast. I am not sure if she is planning on moving back into the apartment after I am forced to leave. I’d like to avoid that.
Do I need to get a lawyer here?
The lady is this post is about deserves a round of applause. Without reading too much into this, I’m guessing she decided to give her partner one more chance after he hit her. But she wasn’t content to let him dictate the terms of her life. With legal assistance, she set things up so that if he messed up again, she could get herself out of there without risking her physical or financial well-being.
In order to protect herself physically, she arranged her escape plan and executed it while he was at work so that he was not present when she decided to move out. She also blocked his cell phone number, and had her lawyer warn him that she would call the police if he tried to contact her.
The financial side of this plan is equally well done. By having the apartment and utilities in her own name, she is able to prevent him from ruining her credit to punish her. Since she has maintained a good relationship with her landlord, and has arranged for her ex to be charged if he messes up the apartment, she has also done the best things she could to ensure that she will be able to get a new apartment. Nobody is going to be able to fault her for trashing the place or not paying rent.
Anyone out there who is thinking of leaving an abusive partner should take this woman’s example to heart. Pennsylvania law differs somewhat from the law in Arkansas, so this exact plan wouldn’t work exactly the same way here, but the big lesson here is this: escaping from a bad relationship is not something that has to be done alone. Getting help from an experienced family law attorney can make the process smoother and safer.