What are legal rights in a legal separation?

My wife and I are legally separated. She moved back in with me recently but it did not work out. She has been draining my account. What are my legal rights? Can I kick her out and change the locks?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Family Law, Oregon

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you are legally separated and she does not have "color of title," then you can kick her out.  Color of title is when someone is on a lease or title to the property.  If she is on the lease, you can't just kick her out without going through the judicial system--otherwise you can be liable for damages and be charged with a crime from wrongful eviction.

As far as the bank account is concerned, once you are legally separated each spouse has a right to half of the community property, but no right to further income--because new income is separate property of each spouse.  So, she would be entitled to access the community bank account (funds accrued during marriage) and could take half of those funds.  If she takes more than half of those funds you will be entitled to a reimbursement.

If she took funds from earnings in your account post separation and those earnings were gained after the separation, then you are entitled to full reimbursement because those funds were separate property.

The problem here is the date of separation.  If you filed for legal separation at the courthouse, then everything I just said is correct.  If you simply told one another you were separating, then you "shacked up" again, then things are seriously complicated and you need to get an attorney.

Rip off the band-aid and file for divorce.  Figure out if she has a legal right to the premises (on the lease etc.) before kicking her out.  You may even want to call the Sheriff and have them ask her to leave.  That way you are somewhat protected.  When you file for divorce, seek reimbursement for any portion of your half of community property funds that she took.  Seek full reimbursement for any separate property earnings gained after separation that she took.

Best of luck.


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