can I change the locks on my house

Hi I recently filed no-contest divorce using you guys I have a question I’m hoping you can answer my wife renting an apartment August 1st that is our date of separation it is now October 26th she still has belongings in my house I leave for work soon I am away for 3 weeks at a time I would like to change the locks so that she does not have access to the premises she claims she has an entitlement to come into the house while I am gone this is a rental both our names were on the lease am I allowed to lock her out if she does not come and get her items

Asked on October 26, 2018 under Family Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have a legal separation agreement in effect or a final decree of divorce has been granted which stipulates who has the right to occupy the rental, then it remains the "joint marital residence". This means that you both have a right to occupy it, no matter whose name is on the lease.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, unless and until there is some court order (such as at the end of the divorce, determining who may live where; or during the divorce, in the form of a protective order if there is any domestic violence), you may not lock a spouse out of the marital residence, or where the two of you had lived. If you try to do so, she can get a court order letting her back in.

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