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November 4th, 2017, 21:38
Hey.

I know this probably isn't the best place to post this, but you guys are all older than I am with likely much more experience in this area. And I also know you guys are intelligent so I figured I'd just give it a shot.

So, long story short, my parents, with whom I'm living with, recently got separated. The 3 of us all own the house we were living in in equal shares. I don't want to get too personal but I take care of my mom here, and he's been gone for over 2 months. We had a verbal agreement that he would sign off the deed in exchange for the vehicle (which he and my mother co-owned.)

So we got a lawyer and started the process, including sending several certified letters to his new house. However, he has since met a woman who is trying to undermine the agreement. Frankly, she seems unhinged, doing borderline harassing things like leaving threatening notes in our mailbox. My mom's ex-husband has not answered any of the certified letters sent from our lawyer or done anything to remove himself from anything related to the property.

So, here's the kicker. Today's threatening letter said they are coming tomorrow and changing the locks on the house. He's been gone for over 2 full months. We had the verbal agreement and there was an exchange of keys signifying the agreement (he got the car key while we got his house key.) Yet he and this random woman are probably going to show up here tomorrow, possibly with a local deputy and try to intimidate us. They've tried that unsuccessfully in the past but honestly I do not trust the local law enforcement in this matter.

So, I'm wondering what you guys would suggest, or at least some sort of thing to consider or think about. We're trying to get our lawyer's cell phone number as he is gone for the weekend and we foolishly do not have his cell number to contact him for emergencies. Our lawyer informed us that he can't come back and do that, yet the state police told us we can't keep him off the property, but there's got to be some sort of action we can take. We've told him not to come back and he's agreed over 2 months ago, yet they continue to harass us.

Any ideas here? I'll give more details if they aren't too personal. We really just never want to see this guy again and be left alone.
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November 4th, 2017, 21:56
My only advice is watch out for lawyers. Lawyers and judges exploit the emotions of couples until all the money is gone.

Couples splitting up go through a serious sense of betrayal and they take a long time dealing with until they realize there's nothing left in the bank or the house. The best thing you can do is have it settle on paper quickly. At least the children are older so they won't starve through bankruptcy and shuffling between relatives.

One trick I've seen lawyers do is quit. After you build your case together they up and leave you, so you have to hire another lawyer. This is an old boys network that the judge is in on where they collectively fleece the parties involved. My old roommate fled the country when the he said the judge threatened to throw him jail because he couldn't pay his lawyer (he should have declared the bankruptcy and let the lawyer get what the courts decide he should get).

That said, splits are often not a one time event - these things drag on emotionally for years. This woman has got her claws in and is clearly jealous of his ex relationship.
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November 4th, 2017, 22:10
Well we do trust our lawyer. He's helped out a family member in the past and got a great review from him.

There are also no kids involved, just the three of us.

Remember to always get the personal cell phone of your attorney for cases like this. My mother is older and does not use a cell phone and didn't think to do that at the time, but it obviously is very important.
Last edited by Fluent; November 4th, 2017 at 22:21.
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November 4th, 2017, 22:29
If you trust the lawyer ask him.
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November 4th, 2017, 22:31
I am sorry to hear about all the trouble you are going through. Clearly your mother's ex husband is miserable and you know what they say about misery. I suggest that even though it is hard, that you be nice to him because he is obviously still hurting. It will take some time before he can think clearly especially with that undesirable woman there.
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November 4th, 2017, 23:13
Remember - he is NOT her 'ex' yet, legally. He cannot lock you out of your house - if the house is indeed deeded to all of you, then he has no standing … and his new girlfriend certainly has ZERO standing. Call the police if he tries anything.

Who is on the title of the car? Unless it is him ONLY, then it is not HIS car, regardless of you giving him the keys - unless it is in writing. Sadly it is time to get everything in writing, signed and notarized … and fast.

And while I am not sure I completely agree with Damian's suggestion to 'be nice' - his point is actually very important: do not say or do ANYTHING that can be held against you. That includes text messages or things on answering machines - or that could have been recorded. (as an aside, years ago a small company tried to screw my wife over, but I recorded the phone call on the answering machine and used that to end it fast).

Good luck and I am sorry you guys are going through this … my brother went through an ugly divorce, and even after that his ex was still his medical proxy and was trying to screw him over while he was in a coma after a severe heart attack - I had to intervene, get his lawyer, etc. Needless to say I am now legally his executor, proxy, etc …
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November 4th, 2017, 23:14
Generally civil disputes don't have perfect (or even good) answers. Spend some time thinking and bouncing ideas off ppl on your side. Try to come up with some sort of a win-win solution.

A negotiated solution is what you are probably looking for. So you sit down and put pencil to paper and try to figure out how much you would spend on legal fees to accomplish the best legal solution. Probably a pretty big cost. Then ask whether you can make some sort of an offer to the ex that would make him disappear for good -- that he would agree in writing -- that would be substantially less than what the legal fee cost (above) would be. Now you're still going to have to pay the lawyer to draw up the negotiated settlement fee, so calculate that in. If you can come up with something, talk to the ex along those lines. No promises but if things look good, then ask him to hold off until lawyer can do agreement.

No negotiated agreement? Then you have to proceed with the best alternative.

Sadly it's all about money and property at the end of the day. You got the asset pot you start off with; and any legal fees are going to reduce the value of that pot (for both sides) when everything is said and done. The ex also needs to understand that he will probably spend legal fees also. Make sure and make that apparent to him.

Figure out a settlement that both sides end up with more than they would after lots of legal fees, and possibly the ex ending up locked up for violating a restraining order or the like.

Pitch the worst. Pitch the best, Compare to the best to the worst. Try to convince everyone to go for the best.

Civil disputes. Civil courts are really a "civilized" form of resolving disputes. I think that's where the legal term "civil" court came from. The alternative is uncivilized dispute resolution where ppl hurt or kill each other to resolve the dispute.

Uncivilized is not good. But a civil legal resolution is generally not free from pain either.

Be creative. Try to craft something good for everyone,

Best wishes and good luck.

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November 4th, 2017, 23:59
Originally Posted by you View Post
If you trust the lawyer ask him.
Yeah, we're trying. Just wish my mom would have gotten his cell phone number. That's old people for you, I guess.

Thanks for the responses all. Lots to think about. It's a bit of a stressful time right now. Peace.
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November 5th, 2017, 04:02
According to the letter today they are coming here tomorrow to try and forceably change the locks on the house. Not really sure how to handle this. They will likely have an officer with them.

Just gotta trust in the universe I guess. Whew. Anxious stuff.
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November 5th, 2017, 05:26
If the house is in all of your names then just have your paperwork with you to show the officer and there is nothing he can do.
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November 5th, 2017, 06:02
Originally Posted by sakichop View Post
If the house is in all of your names then just have your paperwork with you to show the officer and there is nothing he can do.
Are you sure? A state police offer we called said otherwise, and the local trooper said the same the last time they tried this. However, our lawyer is saying what you are. We still can't get in touch with our lawyer because it's going to be Sunday and we don't have his damn cell phone number.

We just want to figure out why he wants this key so badly. We had a verbal agreement in where he wanted nothing to do with the house further, including any paying of taxes, etc., and in exchange he receives the vehicle. We exchanged keys and had it all done except the paperwork. Once he met this woman, he won't respond to our lawyer's certified letters and they are making a bunch of false information up, and trying very hard to get that key back.

Why would he want the key so bad? All of his belongings are already at his new residence, there's literally nothing for him here. Neither my mom nor I can stand him, he has no leftover anything here, and there is no beneficial reason whatsoever for him to come around here. So they must be cooking up some weird caper and we can't really figure out what their goal is.
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November 5th, 2017, 06:41
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Are you sure? A state police offer we called said otherwise, and the local trooper said the same the last time they tried this. However, our lawyer is saying what you are. We still can't get in touch with our lawyer because it's going to be Sunday and we don't have his damn cell phone number.

We just want to figure out why he wants this key so badly. We had a verbal agreement in where he wanted nothing to do with the house further, including any paying of taxes, etc., and in exchange he receives the vehicle. We exchanged keys and had it all done except the paperwork. Once he met this woman, he won't respond to our lawyer's certified letters and they are making a bunch of false information up, and trying very hard to get that key back.

Why would he want the key so bad? All of his belongings are already at his new residence, there's literally nothing for him here. Neither my mom nor I can stand him, he has no leftover anything here, and there is no beneficial reason whatsoever for him to come around here. So they must be cooking up some weird caper and we can't really figure out what their goal is.
First off as someone who learned very young, NEVER make verbal agreements and expect them to be honored or stand up in the eyes of the law. It becomes your word against his instead of a written binding contract.

Second, maybe the state troopers are saying you can’t deny him access to the home. Which is true if he has documentation proving he’s part owner. Unless you had a restraining order against him but even then he’d probably be allowed entry when you weren’t home with the escort of an officer.

However, just as you can’t deny him access, he can’t change the locks and deny you access either assuming you have documentation of ownership.

As for why he wants the key I can’t say for sure but it sounds like an opportunistic lady has gotten his ear and convinced him he shouldn’t get just the car and you guys get the house.

Anyway this needs to be handled through the courts. Your mom should file for divorce and have him served papers. He won’t be able to ignore that. In the mean time depending on the content of the threatening letters maybe you can get a restraining order that would keep him from you and the house.

* disclaimer* I’m not a lawyer so definitely seek and follow your legal counsel. I was close with someone that went through something similar though and my advice comes from that experience.
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November 5th, 2017, 07:21
I think what sakichop is saying is probably correct.

And chances are that Law Enforcement Officers will do nothing without a valid Court Order.
If that doesn't exist, there will likely be no LEOs accompanying the Ex even if he does show up.

So if he does show up without LEOs, then be sure to be very nice. And get a video of everything that goes on. If he tries to change the locks without a vialid court order, then ask him nicely not to do that . Get a video of same. If he persists, tell him that your lawyer is not available today. Ask him to stop. Nicely. Video the whole thing.

If he persists, then you cal LEO. Ask them to stop the domestic dispute until your lawyer is available. Be very calm and nice. Video the whole thing.

LEO will probably cooperate with you to give you a chance to have the courts settle the whole mess. They will not want to let the ex change the status quo without a court order. They probably will ask him to leave or at least to stop trying to physically alter the premises.

So strategy. Video the encounter and be very very nice. Then get in touch with lawyer ASAP. Look to settle with EX in writing ASAP.

*same disclaimer as Saki. No legal advice here --only practical suggestions.
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November 5th, 2017, 07:32
Awesome responses, both of you. I truly appreciate it.

This is a very stressful time for me. So thank you all for responding. I will definitely take notes from those last 2 posts…
@sakichop, We've filed for divorce. Well, mom has obviously . But I'm helping her with the situation. However, he ignored the certified letters that our lawyer has sent. 2 of them were sent now with no response. Beyond that, our lawyer is still working on it obviously, and in the meantime (Sunday) we can't get a hold of him until Monday (at which point I will make sure to get his cell number. Yeesh!) So @RPGFool 's post sounds like almost exactly the thing we'll do tomorrow.

By the way, he doesn't want to deny us access. He just wants to change the locks and give us a key, but he wants access to the house, even though he has no beneficial (or IMO, reasonable) reason to be here. I know technically he is a part-owner, but yeah, why come here if we're all at odds and you literally have nothing here to gain? It's not like he left furniture or belongings here. Doesn't sound reasonable to me or make any sense. I think they just want to try and make us miserable, basically.

Anyway, niceness will prevail tomorrow. I could actually get a restraining order right now against him, just haven't done it, but I do have a legit case. If he pushes it too much tomorrow I will be forced to do that.

Thanks again peeps!
Last edited by Fluent; November 5th, 2017 at 07:51.
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November 5th, 2017, 14:04
Best of luck, Fluent. I hope all will work out nicely for you. You’re in my thoughts.

Sorry that I have no additional advice. Just one question: if he’ll manage to change the locks, does he intend to move in, or will he leave again the same day giving you the chance to change the locks again?
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November 5th, 2017, 15:41
Wow Fluent, I feel for you man. Now that you've told us this much please let us know how it works out. I've no further advice to give either since Saki, Fool and Txa have pretty much said the same things I would've.
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November 5th, 2017, 20:00
I'm not sure how it works in the US, but in Canada, if they lived in the home together while married or common-law, then they're both equally entitled to the house, regardless of who's on the title. So the only way that law enforcement could remove you or change locks, is if they had a court appointed order signed by a judge (if they both own the house by marriage, police can't just decide who gets to live there). As RPGFool said, take a video, be polite, if someone forcefully tries to remove you, ask them for a court order showing they can. Show your legal documents to cops if you must (marriage/divorce cert, seperation agreements, etc) If they still try and remove you, you'll need a lawyer. Try to get your lawyers contact info somehow. If not, there's usually SOME sort of free legal counsel line you can call in your area where you can at least get some advice that isn't us.

Other things you can try, is applying for an emergency protection order, so he is ordered to stay away withing 500 feet of the house, until separation agreements have been settled.
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November 5th, 2017, 20:30
Originally Posted by Eye View Post
Best of luck, Fluent. I hope all will work out nicely for you. You’re in my thoughts.

Sorry that I have no additional advice. Just one question: if he’ll manage to change the locks, does he intend to move in, or will he leave again the same day giving you the chance to change the locks again?
No idea what his intentions are. He wants this key for some reason, even though we struck a legitimate deal regarding it while he still lived here. This handwritten letter we got from this woman written in psuedo-lawyerise is very bizarre. It actually threatens us several times. So we're going to talk to our lawyer ASAP on Monday. I'm sure he'll really like to see it.

Originally Posted by tomasp3n View Post
Wow Fluent, I feel for you man. Now that you've told us this much please let us know how it works out. I've no further advice to give either since Saki, Fool and Txa have pretty much said the same things I would've.
Thanks bro. I appreciate the positive energy alone. Everyone as you said has given amazing advice already. I'll keep you all updated.

Originally Posted by Caddy View Post
I'm not sure how it works in the US, but in Canada, if they lived in the home together while married or common-law, then they're both equally entitled to the house, regardless of who's on the title. So the only way that law enforcement could remove you or change locks, is if they had a court appointed order signed by a judge (if they both own the house by marriage, police can't just decide who gets to live there). As RPGFool said, take a video, be polite, if someone forcefully tries to remove you, ask them for a court order showing they can. Show your legal documents to cops if you must (marriage/divorce cert, seperation agreements, etc) If they still try and remove you, you'll need a lawyer. Try to get your lawyers contact info somehow. If not, there's usually SOME sort of free legal counsel line you can call in your area where you can at least get some advice that isn't us.

Other things you can try, is applying for an emergency protection order, so he is ordered to stay away withing 500 feet of the house, until separation agreements have been settled.
Thanks bro! We figured the same thing actually. No one showed up today (so far, it's only an hour and a half past when they said they would), so maybe it is just a big bluff/intimidation tactic. Since we already had a deal to the living arrangement it could borderline on harassment IMO, but I don't really know the law for that since his name is on the deed.

Anyway, thanks again yall. Will see what happens today and post back later.
Last edited by Fluent; November 5th, 2017 at 20:53.
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November 6th, 2017, 05:03
Early update, but it's 10 PM here and knock on wood, but it looks like it should be a quiet night. Nothing much happened today and I'm thankful for that. We will call the lawyer first thing tomorrow and figure out the next course of action.

Hoping to get at least some decent sleep tonight. It's been a rough couple of days.
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November 6th, 2017, 06:26
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Early update, but it's 10 PM here and knock on wood, but it looks like it should be a quiet night. Nothing much happened today and I'm thankful for that. We will call the lawyer first thing tomorrow and figure out the next course of action.

Hoping to get at least some decent sleep tonight. It's been a rough couple of days.
Hope it works out for the best for you all. Been through it all a few times here, so I totally get the emotional stress it puts on everyone. Keep us posted.
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