Can awife lock out her husband and keep him from seeing his child?

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Can awife lock out her husband and keep him from seeing his child?

About 3 months ago I left my house because I needed to find work. I am married and have a 3 year-old daughter. When Ihad come back home my wife and her dad had changed the locks on the house and threw my things out. The house is still in mine and my wife’s names. I just want to see my daughter and they won’t let me. Is this legal? They won’t even let me in my own house. We are still legally married. What can I do?

Asked on February 1, 2011 under Family Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

One spouse cannot deprive another spouse of access to a child or deny admittance to the marital residence without a court order.  The fact is, as it stands now, no matter whose name the house in in you have every right to enter.  By changingthe locks to the house and disgarding your personal belongings your wife has opened herself up to civil damages; not to mention that by denying you visitation with your daughter, as potentially jeopardized rights to custody in the event of a divorce.

Frankly, at this point you need legal intervention.  If money is an issue there are agencies, both private and government, that provide free representation to eligable individuals. Legal Aid is one of those services.  If you don't qualify for Legal Aid see if they can recommend someone to help you.  Also, check to see if there is a law school nearby to where you live; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  You can contact the local Bar Association in your county; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances.  Additionally, google men's support groups in your area; they can usually provide a list of attorneys who can help.  Finally, try contacting your state's Department of Social Services, they may be able to refer you to free legal services.


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