Can my wife lock up my belongings and home during divorce proceedings?

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Can my wife lock up my belongings and home during divorce proceedings?

Asked on April 13, 2011 under Family Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, your spouse cannot do this.  Unless you are legally separated and the agreement states who has the right to exclusive possession and control of the premises, you are still a rightful occupant of the house.  This is true regardless of whose name that the title is held in.  Until your divorce is final (or a legal separation agreement goes in effect), the house is still considered to be the lawful marital residence. Therefore, each spouse has the right to live there.  As for your "belongings",  to the extent that they constitute your separate property, your wife has not rights to them; to the extent they constitute marital property, she does not have the sole right to it unless and until a court orders otherwise.  At this point your wife could be facing both civil and criminal charges for denying you access to your home and belongings.

Right now, you should definitely speak directly with a divorce lawyer in your area. 

Note:  A court order for could be issued immediately to put you out of the house if you put your wife in fear for her safety by making threats, etc. against her (however you did not indicate this to be the case). 


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