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Man shocked when ex-wife moves into his apartment building; 'I thought you had a restraining order against me.' AITA? UPDATED

Man shocked when ex-wife moves into his apartment building; 'I thought you had a restraining order against me.' AITA? UPDATED


When this man is shocked to see his ex-wife, he asks the internet:

"My ex has a restraining order against me. Now she lives next to me. AITA?"

My Ex Wife and I had a rocky marriage, my alcoholism didn't help. She pushed for a divorce.

We lived together during this divorce and one day I found out she was dating another man. I snapped and hit her, pretty hard. I was charged with assault, spent 3 months in jail, went to anger management and I was also issued a 3 yr restraining order.

This was 2 yrs ago. I have since sobered up, met a wonderful woman and moved to a completely different apartment complex in a completely different part of the city and never had any further contact with my Ex Wife.

I admit what I did was wrong, I paid the price, I've seen re-established myself. My current woman who I've been in a relationship with for 2 yrs is aware of this back ground story (which makes things slightly easier).

Well unknown to me my ex moved into my apartment complex about 5 months ago with her now new husband (who had always lived here, I did not know this) I saw her in the lobby just before new years.

She greeted me, I turned shocked and said hello. She asked me what I was doing in the lobby I said I was just coming in from work she told me that the restraining order is still in effect and I need to move out.

I tried to reason with her and told her I'd be happy to steer clear of her, I know we don't live on the same floor (I don't even know what floor she lives on, I don't care to know) I told her if I saw her on an elevator I wouldn't get in and just wait for the next one. She told me she was going enforce the restraining order against me.

My partner and I literally just signed a brand new 2 yr lease 6 months ago. We love the place we live in, and wouldn't want to move. And it feels unjust having to move/incur financial hardship because the person I had a restraining order against moved into my apartment complex.

The reason why I'm bringing this up is cause last night building management was informed of the restraining order and told us we need to figure this out.

Would she really be able to force me out of my home even though I lived here before her? As long as I do my best to avoid any contact with her (which I'm perfectly fine doing) shouldn't that be sufficient?

I work a really early schedule and the fact is she was dating this guy and coming over to this apartment complex for the entire time I've been here, and we ran crossed paths, and she's been living here full time for 5 months and just recently crossed paths. Not sure what to do.

Before we give you OP's update, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

jobex writes:

The first thing you should do is lookup your order of protection, lookup the copy you were provided, or have the building forward you the copy that she provided them. DO NOT CONTACT HER. If you cannot get a copy, you may need to see if you can see the order by looking at the court copy from the issuing county/court.

You should contact your attorney who represented you on the matter involving the restraining order to have the order modified for incidental contact at your home address.

In your case, it should be your defense attorney or defense agency who represented you on the criminal matter who can/should help you. Tell them what you've stated on this thread and see what they can do about modification.

A 3 year order of protection is odd, in NYC/NY state, the typical criminal order of protection is either 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, or 8 years although these orders can be modified by family court sometimes and domestic violence charges may change the timeline.

Family court may also have issued some kind of order of protection independent from the criminal matter order of protection. The distinction is important because you want to make sure WHICH order of protection is still in effect and where to ask for a modification.

Now if you do everything that I mentioned and your attorney tells you that modification is unlikely or impossible, I think that your lease with the building should be broken.

Since shes moved into the building you can't be there without breaking the law and I don't think that they should penalize you however thats probably the next third best scenario for you.


mtest9 writes:

I'm not a criminal law attorney but you have some good factors in your favor. You have abided by the order of protection for a long time (2 years!) without incident. You have sobered up and been through counseling.

Judges want to hear that stuff. The best practical advice I can give you is that you should take the lead here. Get an attorney and get yourself back in front of the judge. Tell the judge your story first.

If you wait and she drags you into court, you may be viewed with suspicion because, as others have noted, you're technically in violation of the protection order right now.

An attorney in your area will undoubtedly know more about what to ask for but if you take the lead the judge will probably be more sympathetic to your cause.

Ask for the time of the order to be shortened (out of existence) or that the parameters be redefined so that you can live in the same complex but that you agree to not have purposeful contact with her. Bottom line: get out in front of this.

And now, OP's update:

The public defender that represented me was no longer practicing in the NYC area but I retained a lawyer who was a friend of a friend who had experience in this area.
My lawyer got references from my PO, Employer, and AA Sponsor.

Our goal was to get the restraining order modified to a simple no-contact order with no distance requirements so I could continue living with my partner. I spoke to the Judge told him my story, what I had done to correct my past transgressions. He reviewed my record. We submitted our references.

During this time period I was crashing on a friends couch as to not vioalte my propective order. PO said I had paid my fines, followed all the rules, and never once had to remind me of my restrictions, and so forth and said he was impressed with my turnaround.

My employer said that I was always early, never seemed to be under the influence or hangover from anything, and even at our company functions was very open and honest about my sobriety and didn't partake in drinking.

My AA Sponsor said good things about me too, how he was impressed with my maturity, and openness on my alcoholism and addiction.

Then the Judge asked my ex-wife to speak. My ex-wife said she was shocked by my turnaround.

She said that it seemed unfair to her to require me to move because she moved into my building unknowingly and that she no longer felt threatened by me. This was a shock to both my lawyer and I as I expected my Ex to want to keep the protective order in place.

The Judge said that he wouldn't modify the protective order but lift it entirely as he felt it had served its purpose and that based upon my references, my testimony, and most importantly the testimony of my Ex that he didn't see how keeping it place was benefiting anymore.

He did tell my Ex that if she ever felt threatened or in danger because of something I said or did she could contact the police.

The Judge then told me his main reason for lifting the order was to allow me to live in my current apartment but advised it was a good idea to avoid contact with my Ex to avoid any potential complications down the road.

He reminded me because of my past it wouldn't take much to get another procetive order put in place. I told the Judge I had no intention of talking/contacting to my Ex and I was thrilled that I don't have to move and get to stay with my current girlfriend.

So over the course of this weekend I moved back into my apartment with my girlfriend. I'm glad this was resolved.

Readers continued to weigh in on OP's updates:

cff9 writes:

Everyone saying they are surprised by the ex-wife's change of heart, but what surprises me more is that this is a rare case of everyone doing the right thing throughout the whole situation.

The ex-wife sees her abuser out of the blue in the lobby of her new home after not seeing him for 2 years, doesn't freak out, but does try to enforce the restraining order through the courts.

Then at the court hearing, listens to the testimony and tells the judge based on the evidence that she no longer feels threatened. Honestly she would have also been well within her rights to say "i respect all the thing he has done, but i can't get that episode out of my head." But she didn't. She listened and changed accordingly.

The judge listened to the testimony of everyone, and issued an incredibly fair ruling. He also reminded OOP of the consequences of taking advantage of this ruling in a firm but fair way.

Then OOP really did everything right. He was put in an unfair and incredibly crappy situation, but instead of taking it out on his current gf or ex-wife like he may have in the past...even as he was facing losing his apartment he respected the order, stayed at a friends place, and used the court and his conduct to demonstrate he had changed.

Probably the small thing that had the biggest impact on both the judge and the ex, though, was seeking to modify the order to NC rather then seeking to have it removed.

Because that showed he understood and respected the ex's potential feelings and simply wanted to stay in his apartment peacefully. This is how the system is supposed to work every time.

bublbycato writes:

In our state, if a protective order is in place and the victim unknowingly violates their own order, they have to distance themselves from the situation, not force the person they have the order against to move, change employment, etc to keep it effective.

If this wasn’t so, then the victim could theoretically ‘harass’ the perpetrator by purposely putting themselves too close to in effect, cause the perp to violate it. I know of more than one case in our county where someone had a protective order in place and moved too close to the person it was against.

Most times when this happens, the perp, like the op, requests it be lifted and so long as perp wasn’t the one who violated it, it is usually granted by the judge.

The victim cannot walk in a restaurant, see the perp, then demand they leave or call the police. Just doesn’t work that way. In this case, victim violated their own order, not the perpetrator, so it should have been lifted.

finadi writes:

I wonder how long the RO was for because when I had one it lasted one year from court date and if I wanted it extended I would have to back to court and explain why I felt it was needed because I would have to prove I was in actual fear of him.

Another I was also told if I spoke to him in anyform I could also be charged with violating the RO. So her speaking to him first was bad all around because she violated it first and it would be harder to show your in active fear if you willingly go and confront him.

I think the police told me this for two reasons one harder to prove fear if your in active contact if I was to contact him null the order and another I had took one out 2 yrs previous

that I dropped after 6 mo when his family had me feel guilty because he couldn't see his kids used this to work his way back ended reconciling for about a year before having to call the cops again.

This time I kept to the order he tried to call me from jail the night he was arrested after he was informed they granted an emergency protection order. Hung up called the jail to let them know he violated it.

He got an extra 15 days because he tried twice and he got his mom to call me. I live in tn Edit see its for 3 wonder why so long I thought 1 was the norm

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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