Can a person change the locks once their spouse moves out?

My friends spouse has moved out. He keeps coming back and is taking every decent piece of furniture out of the house, even the pots and pans Can we change the locks?

Asked on September 4, 2017 under Family Law, Virginia


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Until a divorce action has been filed or a formal separation agreement has been entered into, the premises shared by spouses remains the "joint marital residence". This means that they both have the rights to occupy it, no matter whose name the deed/lease is in. Att his point, your fried should take legal action is they want to prtect their possessions.

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