If my wife andI are splitting up and she moved out, do I have to give her access to the house when I am not there?

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If my wife andI are splitting up and she moved out, do I have to give her access to the house when I am not there?

Should I change the locks as of the 1st? We are splitting at my request. She chose to move out immediately. She said she would come back for her belongings. We rent; she helped pay the rent.

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Family Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you do have to give her complete access to the premises at least until:

  • A divorce decree specifies that you get sole possession;
  • A legal separation agreement gives you the sole occupancy rights; or
  • A court order is in effect prohibiting your spouse from entering the premises (e.g. a protective order, etc.).

Until any of the above go into effect, the house is still deemed to be the "marital residence". She has as much right to enter as do you. This is true no matter whose name is on the lease and/or who pays for it. And by no means, do not change the locks. This could be deemed both a civil and even criminal offense if she is not allowed entry and/or the ability to get her rightful possessions.


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