Is it illegal for spouse to change locks on house while still married?

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Is it illegal for spouse to change locks on house while still married?

I left wife 3 months ago, we both have house in our name, she change the locks and won’t let me have key to get my belongings. Is this legal or not, since a disoulution has not been filed yet?

Asked on May 29, 2009 under Family Law, Ohio


J.V., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In this instance I have to assume you have an attorney handling the divorce. The best advice I can give you is to consult with them as they know the specifics of your situation and will know what to tell you to best help you with the following proceedings

However in short most states do not allow for a person to change the locks on a home owned by a married couple while in the middle of a divorce. Assuming that neither of you has been given sole rights to the property at this point it is still owned by you both and she should not have the right to change the locks and refuse entry.

However because there are many other possible factors at play in this case before making any decisions or taking any action you really need to find out from your lawyer what they would advise based on your specific circumstance

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 14 years ago | Contributor

If the house is in both your names and there's no legal order preventing you from entering it--no restraining order, no order in the divorce proceedings giving her sole right to the house, etc.--then no, she can't keep you from entering. The house is still your property. However, to avoid the situation from possibly escalating, you want to secure your right to enter in the proper, low key and legal way. If you don't have a matrimonial attorney who could advise you, try contacting your town or city police and asking them for their advice on how to resolve the situation. They may be  able to help you gain access in a way that doesn't turn it into a confrontation between you and your wife, or at least could refer you to the appropriate agency to help.

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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