Can I keep her from coming back into the house or does she have the right whenever she wants?

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Can I keep her from coming back into the house or does she have the right whenever she wants?

My wife file divorce papers. She file a DV restraining order and fled the state with our child. At the RO hearing the judge ordered her back but let me keep the house. She now has an appt, but she says she wants the remaining things in the house. She says she can come get them whenever she wants. Is this true? I’ve changed the locks, the alarm, codes etc to keep her out. she took a lot of stuff with her when she left (she never intended to come back) and now wants “things”. I am leaving out of town and I don’t want to come back to an empty house…

Asked on June 8, 2009 under Family Law, California

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I'm not a California attorney, and there are variations in this area of the law, from one state to another.  More importantly, I don't have a copy of whatever orders have been entered, and your question obviously couldn't include most of the detailed facts of your case.  The orders, and the facts, need to be reviewed by a lawyer near you, for advice you can rely upon.  One place to look for a qualified attorney is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Your wife seems to have a very simple idea of the law, that it will allow her to do whatever she wants.  I disagree!  If the judge gave you possession of the house, and there's a pending divorce and a DV restraining order, it seems to me that she can't come back, and she can't take the belongings in the house.  The items in the house -- and those she's already taken -- are subject to the divorce, and until that is resolved, she has no greater right to any of that than you do.

I hope you got something in writing, out of the RO hearing, that shows that you have possession of the house.  At the very least, before you leave town, get a copy of that over to the local police, and advise them of the situation, that you will be out of town, and that your wife is to be regarded as a trespasser on the property until the court orders otherwise.

If your wife comes to the door while you're there, stay inside, don't talk to her -- and call the police.


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