Any say over house guests? Not yet legally separated

While we work out the separation agreement I have been living away (quite far away) and my wife is denying me entry to the house. Even though it would save me hotel and other costs when I visit my child. To make matters worse she seems to have a semi-permanent house guest, a female friend. Perhaps they are having an affair, though that doesn’t matter so much. But the woman, though she smiles and seems friendly to my face, has clearly been poisoning the relationship between me and my wife for quite a long time. And I feel she’s a bad influence on my child - though there’s nothing concrete I can point to.
I still own the house jointly with my wife and we haven’t finalised a separation agreement. So can I have any real or official say over who spends time there? And if I try coming into the house I think she’ll call the police (even though I’ve never been anything but kind, supportive and generous to her.) If so, is there anything I can say or do? My license still shows that as my home address.

*** Not a lawyer ***

Once you moved out without intent to return, you lost the right to return without her permission even though you still are joint owner of the house. And she could call the police; it’s called “domestic criminal trespass”. Note this is somewhat unique to North Carolina, in many other states you would have the right to return.

As for the house guest, I don’t really know. There’s the possibility of a temporary restraining order to keep her away from the child, although I have no idea what your chances are of getting that granted.

And slightly unrelated since it won’t keep the house guest away from your child, there’s the possibility of “alienation of affection” against this person (there’s an article about that in detail on this site, I’d link it but linking is disabled), and if you can convince the court that your wife engaged in “an act of illicit sexual behavior” before the date of separation it would preclude her from receiving alimony.

If you lived there, you could have this person arrested for trespass if you told her she was no longer welcome, but since you are no longer a resident of the house, you do not have any control of who comes or goes from the property. If you have serious concerns about this woman being around your children, you should file a child custody claim, and ask that the court order that your estranged spouse keep this person away from the children.

How can you be denied access to a home you legally own without some sort of restraining order?

Even if she calls the police, you have a legal right of entry.

Not a lawyer

As noted earlier, if a spouse leaves the residence without the intent to come back, then they waive their rights to access to the property. This is one of the reasons why it is very important to finalize a separation agreement before anybody leaves the marital residence.

The law protects the resident of the house regardless of the ownership. For more information, you can read about domestic criminal trespass on our main website.