Can I change the locks to our home if my spouse isn’t staying there?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I change the locks to our home if my spouse isn’t staying there?

My spouse still has things in our home but stays somewhere else. He will not let me use things like the lawnmower in the barn as he took the keys. Do I have the right to move his things from the house to the barn and change the locks? Does he have the right to take the key to the lawn mower?

Asked on June 20, 2017 under Family Law, Michigan


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Until there is a formal separation agreement in effect or a final decree of divorce has been issued, both spouses retain the right to the use and posseession of the home, as it is still considered to be the "joint marital residence". This is true even if one of the spiuses has moved out (and no matter whose name is on the deed/lease). Accordingly, you do not have the legl right to change the locks or remove your husband's belongings from the premises, at least at this time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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