Can a Probation Officer Separate a Husband and Wife?

Answer: it depends on the orders of the probation and what ‘separate’ means in this question.

Let us explain.

Can a Probation Officer Separate a Husband and Wife? (Explained)


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Authority of the Probation Officer

As an initial matter, a probation officer only have the authority provided to him by the court’s order of probation.

The terms of probably usually contain orders such as the defendant shall:

  • commit no new crimes
  • obey all laws
  • pay his fines and restitution before the end of probation
  • get a job or maintain current employment
  • enroll in school
  • not travel without the permission of the supervisor
  • stay away from specific people or specific places
  • not use or possess specific items (like electronics) or substances
  • get evaluated for treatment or counseling, and complete any recommended treatment

Depending on the situation, there may be others.

The statutes governing the court (state or federal) may also provide the probation officer with some additional authority and governance.

“Separation” of Wife and Husband

This question uses the word “separate.”

This can have different meanings in the world and in the law.

Practically, separate can mean “keep apart.”

Legally, it can mean a legal change in status between a husband and wife akin to a divorce.

A probation officer has no authority to force the legal separation of a man and wife (akin to a divorce).

However, depending on the probation terms, the probation officer can potentially dictate where their probationer lives, works, and otherwise spends their time.

The practical impact of the probation officer’s decisions and approvals could produce a result where the husband and wife have to live separately.

This is especially the case if the probation order contains a specific order prohibiting the husband from coming into the presence of the wife or vice versa, or from coming within a certain number of feet of a location (such as a residence, school, or place of business).

Can a Probation Officer Keep a Husband and Wife Apart?

Ultimately, the answer to this question starts with the terms of the probation order.

If the probation order specifically states that the defendant shall not have contact with another person (like defendant husband shall not have contact with his wife), then the probation officer will do what he can to make sure that doesn’t happen, and will violate the defendant if it does.

If the defendant cannot live in a specific place because of a circumstance (like the residence puts the defendant at risk of re-offending), the probation officer can probably require that he move, even if it means that he can’t live with his spouse.

So long as the probation officer is working within the authority given to him via the probation order and the statutes (as well as the constitution), then the outcome of the husband and wife being apart is generally not considered an abuse of the probation officer’s authority.

There’s no legal authority that gives the husband’s and wife’s rights to live together as a married couple precedence over the orders of probation.

Can Defendant Do Something About It?

Sometimes it is not clear how probation orders will impact the defendant and his family.

If the unintended result of the probation is that husband and wife are unable to live together, the defendant should consider conferring with an attorney about the potential to modify the terms of probation.

If the probation officer is unwilling to allow the desired living situation, the defendant and his attorney might be able to convince the judge to modify the probation terms to allow the husband and wife to live together or otherwise have the desired contact.

If the probation officer seems to be trying to keep the parties apart without authority or good reason, this is yet another reason to get an attorney involved.

Can The Non-Defendant Spouse Do Anything?

The probation orders do not control the non-defendant spouse.

Technically, the non-party spouse could do whatever she liked, so long as it was within the bounds of the law.

That being said, if the non-defendant spouse goes out of her way to encourage or help the defendant spouse to violate his probation, she might be setting up the defendant for some serious probation violation sanctions.

The parties could also be at risk of an extension of the length of probation, thereby extending the amount of time the parties cannot see each other.

Depending on what they do, the non-defendant spouse might also put herself at risk of some legal trouble.

It is generally not recommended that anyone purposefully violate probation orders, no matter how much a couple might miss each other.

But if either party thinks that something needs to be done, the best next step would be to confer with an attorney.

Wrap Up

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Can a Probation Officer Separate a Husband and Wife