Can my husband lock me out of our house if it was purchased by him before we were married?

My husband of 6 months asked me to leave our home after a heated argument so that he could “cool off.” The house was purchased by him before we met, and is solely in his name. I asked to stay at the house while he sought alternate accommodations since everything I would need to take care of our 4 month old son was already there. He refused, stating that the house was his home, and insisted that I leave and stay with my parents. Because I was nursing at the time, I had to bring our son with me. He has since changed the locks without advising me or giving me a key. Most of my belongings are still in the house. He said that I would have to set something up with him to be allowed access to my things. Is he legally allowed to do this?

Asked on September 20, 2012 under Family Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

This is kind of a strange situation.  Practically speaking what I would recommend is calling the Sheriff's department and asking them to "keep the peace" while you attempt to collect your belongings.  Then I would file for divorce, requesting custody, child support, and spousal support.

If the house was purchased previous to the marriage and you are not on title, then yes, you technically have no "color of title" so it's not your house.  If you paid rent in any way, you might be considered a single lodger under Civil Code Section 1946.5, and if you are a single lodger he would not have to use full eviction proceedings but would need to give you 30 days notice before kicking you out. 

Even if he doesn't let you in to get your things, if you file for dissolution, part of the summons (FL-110) is a standard restraining order--that once filed on him would order him from selling any of your things or any community property.

I would recommend consulting with a local family law attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child.

Best of luck.

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