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Can I Legally Evict My 18 Year Old?

Worried young woman looking at bill sitting on floor in new apartment after moving in
By Andrew Leonatti | Last updated on

A parent's love may be unconditional, but they are also legally obligated to house, feed, and pay for their children's needs — that is, until they reach a certain age. So what does that mean if your child is overstaying their welcome at home and not trying to make it in the world on their own? When can you give them the boot?

If you are planning on evicting your adult child, there are some legal pitfalls to be aware of. Evictions are already tricky for unrelated landlords and tenants, so it is highly recommended you seek out help from an experienced landlord-tenant attorney if this is the route you wish to go down.

One Last Spoonful of Sugar

Evicting your child will likely be an emotional process. Relationships can be damaged or broken. While most states will require that you provide ample notice for any eviction, doing so informally and helping your child develop a plan to move out can help make the process less contentious. Informal notices will likely be insufficient to premise a court-ordered eviction on, however.

First off, whether your child is considered a tenant, lodger, guest, trespasser, or squatter will depend on your state's laws, as each state has different rules regarding the landlord-tenant relationship. Their status will determine what your legal rights are when it comes to eviction.

Instead, giving your child an opportunity to get organized and move out without legal pressure or getting an eviction on their record is basically adding a spoonful of sugar to the bitter medicine (of life) you're feeding them.

If you can't work out an informal agreement, then before you take any action to kick them out, you may want to check with an attorney to make sure you do not expose yourself to liability. Self-help in evictions (physically removing a tenant without using the court process) can expose a landlord to harsh penalties. Your child could choose to sue you, harming your relationship even further.

Using the Court to Evict

This option is going to cost money. Even if you opt to represent yourself, there are court filing fees and other fees that may be unavoidable. Additionally, state and local laws may provide some protection to your child, particularly if they are considered a co- or sub-tenant.

If you required your child to pay rent, that may also strengthen their protections and/or status as a tenant or renter, particularly if you live in a rent-control jurisdiction. If you are also a renter, a rent-paying adult child might be practically un-evictable in certain circumstances.

What About Child Support?

While this article is mainly discussing the eviction process, just like for an unrelated landlord and tenant, it's also important to realize what your parental obligations may be to your child.

While in many states the "age of majority" for children is 18, this can be extended. In New York, for example, children can continue to receive child support until they are 21 years old. So while you may be able to evict your child, you could still be on the hook for them financially if they can prove they are unable to support themselves.

As in all legal matters, a lot depends on state and local laws. Before you start any eviction process, seeking qualified local legal help is highly advisable.

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