If my husband and I have filed for an uncontested divorce and are still living together but now he has changed the locks?

He is currently unemployed so we are both staying in the home (both of our names are on the mortgage), while I am paying the bills. While I was out of town last week with our children, he changed the locks on the door. What are my rights?

Asked on July 12, 2015 under Family Law, Missouri


Maury Beaulier / MinnesotaLawyers.com

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you are still married and there is no court order, you each have equal rights to occupy the home. It is you r property. THat means you may enter - by any means - and it is not illegal. The concern would be creating a domestic incident.  You may wish to have police present. 

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Basically, until the divorce is final and the issue of who gets the house has been settled, it is still the marital residence (whether or not you are on the lease or deed). The police may or may not get involved; it is basically a civil atter. At ths point, you can now change the locks in order to gain access, just be sure to give your spouse a key. However, you may want to seek the advise of a local divorce attorney and see if they have other suggestions as well. 

Note: There are 2 exceptions marital residence rule. If one party has been physically abusive towards the other or has placed the other in fear of immediate serious bodily injury, the abused party may file a request with the court for an order of protection that will exclude the abuser from the marital home for a period of time. Also, a spouse may file a petition in court requesting that they be granted exclusive possession of the marital residence. If the petition is granted, the non-requesting spouse would be excluded from the property and the spouse in residence would be permitted to change the locks, etc.

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