Ifmy wife packed up and left without a word, can I change the locks to protect my personal property?

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Ifmy wife packed up and left without a word, can I change the locks to protect my personal property?

She took some of her personal items and some of my step-daughter’s personal items, the dog, and the cat. She also took a Christmas gift intended for my oldest daughter. So I guess I am asking what are my options for limiting her entry to my home without my being here?

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Family Law, Michigan

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unless you go to court and obtain temporary order giving you the exclusive right and possession to the house (or apartment), there really isn't anything that you can do.  At this point, the house (or apartment) is still considered to be the joint marital residence; and this is true regardless of whose name is on the deed (or lease).  Right now you need to speak directly with a divorce attorney.  Once temporary orders are issued, things will be different.  And whatever you do, do not be tempted to use a little self-help such as putting her things out in the street or even into storage.  There could be both criminal and civil penalties if you do.

Note:  If she puts you in fear for your personal physical safety, then you may be able to apply for a protective order which would result in her immediate bar from the premises. 


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