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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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  #1  
Old 02-16-2009, 02:34 PM
ANewLife ANewLife is offline
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Default Access to family Home by ex spouse who does not live here!

To set the scene...

My Ex and I have been sharing our home for almost the last couple of years after deciding to divorce. We both agreed to this to sort out things financially and for the kids. In general it has worked well (we both have our separate lives, new partners etc and had arrangements to be away very second weekend)

About 4 months ago we agreed it was time to sell the home but wanted to do a lot of clean up and minor repairs (some electrical issues and painting etc) to get top dollar. We divided up the responsibilities and I pushed her on some issues as she did not start some of her tasks - she then said she wanted to sell this summer which was not acceptable to me - I want to get on with my life.

In the end she moved out over Christmas - she had more flexibility to do so with her partner and it was already agreed I would have custody of our 2 children.

She does not work but we have the following routine now:

She comes over around 7:15 and does school lunches then takes the boys to school (10 minute drive). I own the car and take the bus to work shortly after she arrives. She has access to the car during the day (I pay all gas, maintenance and insurance)

She does the school pickup and either takes them to her place or brings them home. When I arrive home around 5:30 she leaves - sometimes taking the car for the trip in the morning sometimes not (she lives a 10-15 minute walk away) if the car is neede at my end -kids activities grocery shopping. I get the car on weekends when I am home or as agreed she may borrow it if needed - she does not drive her partenrs car at all (standard and she is hesitant to learn).

Sometimes she cooks dinner and sometimes I do - no set arrangement.

I do the routine around the home - dishes, laundry etc.

She has had access during the day to the home to do her bit - but this has dropped off recently.

We still operate a joint bank account and she uses money from that account - she is good about only buying necessities for herself and some food and items for the kids (haircuts etc). She wants around $400 per month in spousal support (for her personal spending - independent to any costs associated for the kids - there is no indication that she even thinks she may have to pay CS in the future) but also knows that I cannot afford it currently - I pay all the bills and we did have financial issues prior to the breakup - I said that is why we need to sell the home.

She does not work but is capable of it - works for 2-3 months then quits as she has a disagreement or similar with her manager. Her working has always cost us, as I lose the spousal claim in taxes without her working for a longer period each year.

Her new partner is paying for her and they have gone on several vacations and weekends away - she says she wants to pay her own way (by me paying her). I have agreed to spousal support (verbally - I will be fair) and catch up (from the time she moved out) once the home is sold - I am also financially responsible for the children and setting up a new home for them and I.

The issue:

This weekend she was not coming around - I took the children to their grandmothers' and my girlfriend was coming over (Valentines) - my ex knew this and was coming over Sunday evening to borrow the car, then today to pack some things, which was agreed.

Our eldest was felling sick when he got home from Grandmas and my wife decided to pop in last night around 9:30. She just used her key and walked in without even knocking or calling first etc.

I felt it was an invasion to my privacy to just walk in unannounced - prior to this incident we always knew when we were to be at the house together.

I expected her response to be ...oh sorry , no problem, I'll call first next time (or to at least knock on the door). Instead I got :

" unless (my girlfriend) is here I will come and go as I please and you have no rights to any privacy while I continue to own this home (joint ownership)" (tirade between us continues for several minutes).

I was angry and felt there is a difference between ownership and residence (she does not reside here) and I cannot just walk into her new home. It is a basic common courtesy to announce an arrival if unexpected.

The reality of selling the home it seems to be hitting etc, so I understand there may be emotional aspects to all this as well, however, She thinks I have no rights (and stated as such).

I said that if she arrives unexpectedly, I would not let her in (we can lock a screen door that is not accessible from outside). She said she would get the kids to let her in and I don't want them to be in the middle of all this (more than they already are)

I also feel she was jealous about me having the home to myself with my girlfriend etc - she has indicated she does not like her new residence mcuh (and they briefly contemplated buying me out, but it was too large and inexpensive for them). I cannot buy her out and pay support with my current financials.

It also came out in the past few weeks that she wasn't ready to have moved out (After deciding on divorcing March 07) and then last night stated she had planned on moving in with her partner February 20th - she never indicated this prior and agreed to move out over Christmas.

I feel she has always been self-centred about all the divorce (wanted to stay in the home with me paying the bills but still able to have a relationship with someone else and not work) so I have started to push my own timetable - I want to get this over, sort the boys and myself out prior to summer and get on with my life!

We do not have a written agreement - merely verbal and by discussion

My concerns are:

1. Should/Can I change the locks? This is not something I wish to do as it changes the routine (which does suit me well) and is inflammatory. I would prefer to keep the screen door locked and if she shows up unannounced (only happened this once), then choose whether to let her in or not. I also don't want the boys to get into the middle of this issue.

2. Do you think it is possible I will come home from work and she will be there with the screen door locked and then not let me in? (even though she does not 'live' there)? If this occurred, do I need to call the police etc?

3. I have a separate bank account - is this the right time to divert my income to the other account and make the appropriate arrangements for the mortgage payments etc to come from that account.

At this point I may be able to offer her some money for her expenses, but should remove access to the car and do the school routine and after school care myself?

Until we sell the home she still thinks she can come over - she does not invite the kids to her house for an extended period (Over 1 hour) and the oldest won't go there at all!

Again, this is inflammatory, and I assumed we could do this account closing etc when we sold the home.

4. Does she really have the right to just enter the home whenever she wishes? (Common social norms would say No, let alone legal ones).

Thanks in advance for any input and advice - some family day, huh!
  #2  
Old 02-16-2009, 06:34 PM
FreeNow FreeNow is offline
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This must be confusing to your children. It confuses me. You need to get an interim separation agreement in place. Verbal agreements are worth squat. She could still take the kids with her.
Dump the joint bank account and any joint credit cards.
You can't change the locks or deny her access to the house. Under the FLA you both have the right of posession of the matrimonial home.

FN
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:11 PM
ANewLife ANewLife is offline
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She doesn't want both kids - possibly the oldest but I will have the youngest full-time.

To date things have been going really well and a counsellor felt we were doing well by the kids.

I guess as things get closer to physically separating unpredictable things may start to occur, so getting the interim separation agreement in place does seem necessary.

Does she actually have the right to walk in unannounced? (I keep the screen door locked now, so at least I have to open the door to let her in).

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:11 PM
yearsgone yearsgone is offline
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Although this is "rude", it IS still half her house in the eyes of the law. There is a site which may help. Ottawa Mediation - JDS Mediation Services

I hate to say it, but although your intentions were good, you may find you have created a hornets nest which will end up costing you more to settle.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:52 PM
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dadtotheend dadtotheend is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ANewLife View Post
Does she actually have the right to walk in unannounced? (I keep the screen door locked now, so at least I have to open the door to let her in).
Congratulations on setting up an arrangement that transitions the two of you and the kids in a way where you are both cooperating.

Your ex does have the right to enter as she pleases as it's the matrimonial home. You haven't yet legally divided or sold the property.

You are both in new relationships and it seems high time that you divided or sold the family property and get a separation agreement that addresses CS and SS.

Your willingness to cooperate for the benefit of the children would seem to suggest that joint custody would be appropriate. The parenting schedule will dictate the CS.

Try as hard as you can to continue to continue to agree to do what's right by your kids. You two would seem to be good candidates to settle your affairs via collaborative family law or mediation and to stay as far away from the adverserial courts as you can.

Last edited by dadtotheend; 02-16-2009 at 09:55 PM.
  #6  
Old 02-16-2009, 11:11 PM
paris paris is offline
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Definitely time for a legal agreement, and to settle all issues. Especially when you have both moved on to new relationships.

It's a surprise in itself that you have both been so amicable in this separation. The bigger surprise is that your respective new partners are being as understanding.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:19 PM
jankes71 jankes71 is offline
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As far as I have found, and in my own situation, once one partner leaves the home, they give up their rights to enter. She is entitled to the equity from the home, but she has given up her right of residence. I had the locks changed when my spouse left, which I was assured was well within my legal rights. This si why they always warn you not to leave the home if you are seperating. My sister went through the same thing, her husband left, and her lawyer told her to have the locks changed.

As far as forcing the sale of the home, this can be difficult, she can stall it for a long time if she wants.

You guys have done well so far, if you want to get the house sold, try not to anger her too much. Lol. She is probably having doubts about everything that has happened. Give her some time, and keep up the good work.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:39 PM
FreeNow FreeNow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jankes71 View Post
As far as I have found, and in my own situation, once one partner leaves the home, they give up their rights to enter. She is entitled to the equity from the home, but she has given up her right of residence. I had the locks changed when my spouse left, which I was assured was well within my legal rights. This si why they always warn you not to leave the home if you are seperating. My sister went through the same thing, her husband left, and her lawyer told her to have the locks changed.

As far as forcing the sale of the home, this can be difficult, she can stall it for a long time if she wants.

You guys have done well so far, if you want to get the house sold, try not to anger her too much. Lol. She is probably having doubts about everything that has happened. Give her some time, and keep up the good work.
Maybe in BC but not in Ontario. Actually what you say dose not even make sense for BC. Suppose a wife is being physically abused and she leaves the home. The husband changes the locks. BC law says that she loses her right to enter the home????????? ----nah.


FN

FN
  #9  
Old 02-17-2009, 10:33 AM
ANewLife ANewLife is offline
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Default Responses are appreciated

Thanks for all the responses.

Yes, we are trying to keep out of the courts so it is in my best interest as well to be accommodating too!

It seems the priority for me right now is:

1. Get a temporary separation agreement in place - this may not address longer term issues like living arrangements for the kids and applicable CS, however, our verbal arrangement right now is that I would be the primary parent (one essentially FT with me, the older at her place 'occasionally'), so there will be little in the way of CS calculations.

2. Finish tidying up the house and get in on sale asap (although the market is not good!).

3. Try to arrange to pay her at least a couple of hundred a month now -as that is what she keeps coming back to in arguments. I will divert my pay into the separate account, then just move money across to the shared account as appropriate to protect myself as well.

Yes, I do feel we have done a good job till now of trying to progress in an orderly fashion through this - social separation and determining that reconciliation is not an option, working with he boys and our new partners in 'getting 'comfortable and now actually getting on with the house sale etc.

I know it will still be emotional, so if I am less inflammatory I feel there is less risk of something going crazy at the last minute?

Cheers
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