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Thank you for your inquiry. Judging by the facts, it seems that there are a couple issues here. One big issue is whether there is a common law marriage or not. Based on the fact that you initially addressed him as your "boyfriend" I would say no - however, you mentioned the car insurance agent's actions so I feel the need to address it.
South Carolina does recognize common law marriage, however this type of marriage must be proved with "strong and competent testimony." In addition to being listed as married on your insurance policy, the court will look at several additional factors to determine your marital status including:
- was there an intent to be married?
- length of time you lived together.
- do family members, friends, and members of the community address you as a married couple?
- do you have children together?
- do you file joint tax returns?
- do you maintain joint bank accounts?
This is not an exclusive list and a court might consider other factors in addition to this. Also, please note that if you are claiming there is a common law marriage, then simply moving out does not end the "marriage," you must go through the process of filing for a divorce and have the court split the property in an equitable manner.
As for the issue of whether you are entitled to equity in the home -- If you two purchased the home together (meaning you contributed to the down payment, closing costs, improvements/repairs, and the mortgage), then yes you will be entitled to a portion of the equity in the home. However, this could be an uphill battle if there was no co-habitation agreement to outline your intentions and protect your interests.
If you simply moved into your boyfriend's house and contributed to some of the bills and a portion of the mortgage, you likely will not be entitled to any equity in the home. Courts generally chalk this up to the "standard cost of living." In other words, if you didn't live with your boyfriend - you likely would have paid rent and utility bills somewhere else, therefore you will not be refunded these expenses. Without putting a major economic contribution into the home, you will not be entitled to take equity out of the home.
Once again, thank you for your inquiry. I hope that my answer was of help to you. Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. I wish you the best of luck in this matter.
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