When a Spouse Moved Out; Can I Change Locks in the Marital Home?
A common question divorce lawyers hear is, “My spouse moved out. Can I change locks in the family home”. The short answer is generally no. Suppose the marriage parties have resided together in a residential lease or own and reside together in the marital home. In that case, they both have a legal right to access the property.
Just because divorce papers are filed with the Court does not mean a spouse has to leave the marital residence. In a divorce case, the estranged spouse has the right to be on the property. The answer to a spouse moved out can I change the locks is more complicated. It is possible with the appropriate Court Orders. Contact a family law attorney to learn how to file the appropriate petition or motion.
What about changing locks in a civil partnership or civil union?
The same rules apply to civil unions and a civil partner. Absent a separation agreement; the Court will apply the same rules in regards to changing the locks. A party that has a legal right to be in the property cannot have the locks changed and thus excluded from the property.
It is advisable to get legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney before changing locks on the matrimonial home. An aggrieved partner can sometimes obtain compensation when wrongfully denied access to the marital home.
My Husband or Wife Moved Out Can I Change the Locks?
Often a divorce lawyer will hear my husband moved out can I change the locks? Or My wife moved out can I change the locks? Changing locks on the house during separation or divorce may seem like a good idea, but it often is not.
Even if only your name is on the deed or lease, it is likely marital property. If the house was purchased or acquired during the marriage it is marital property. If a lease was signed during the marriage likewise it is marital property.
Short of a court order, the equity in the house is a marital asset. A husband cannot lock out his wife from the marital residence and visa versa. If your husband or wife moved out of the residence there are legal ways to change the locks.
The spouse that is locked out can regain entry to the home. The husband or wife locked out of the house can hire a locksmith and gain entry to the marital home. The aggrieved spouse can also break into the house through brute force, causing unnecessary damage to the property.
How Can I legally Change the Locks in Divorce or Legal Separation?
There are two ways in Michigan where a spouse can commonly change locks in divorce or legal separation. Both of these require the permission of the Court. The first way is to obtain a personal protection order if there has been violence or abuse in the relationship.
Another way to change the locks when a spouse has moved out is to file a motion to gain exclusive use of the marital home. An attorney specializing in this family law matter can be of assistance when dealing with the family law court.
An exclusive possession order from a family law court is issued in a divorce filing. The exclusive possession order keeps the spouse from entering the property. It allows the filing party to change the locks and keep the spouse out of the marital residence.
Obtain a Michigan Personal Protection Order or PPO
A Michigan personal protection order (PPO) is a protective order. It is generally granted after there has been some act of domestic abuse or domestic violence against the other spouse. Other states may have different names for this type of order. No jurisdiction requires parties to reside together if there is violence or abuse in the household.
In a divorce, the aggrieved spouse petitions the family law court for a personal protection order (PPO) for marital misconduct. A PPO Michigan is considered a restraining order in other states.
It is common when granted to require the offending spouse to live elsewhere. Often the police will be called, and they will supervise removing their personal belongings from the family residence.
Once the Michigan personal protection order (PPO) is entered, the petitioning party can change the locks. The party filing for the personal protection order can change the locks without fear of the spouse entering the home.
File a Motion for Exclusive Use of the Marital Home
A party can also file a motion for exclusive use of the marital home. One has to file for divorce to be able to file a motion for an order for exclusive use in Michigan. The order for exclusive use Michigan allows you to keep your spouse from coming and going from the marital residence.
This is common if the parties have been separated for some time and each party has maintained a separate residence. When a spouse moves out of the marital home, it is possible to get an order for exclusive possession. It is also common in circumstances where there is abuse or violence in the marriage.
Some states call this “exclusive use” order an occupation order. An occupation order grants one party possession of the marital property relative to their spouse. It can also be granted by motion. This is where one party can prove that there has been abusive or violent behavior toward the other party. It is filed as part of the divorce process.
The party seeking exclusive possession of the marital home has the burden of proof in showing they are entitled to the relief requested. Once exclusive possession is granted, the spouse can no longer come and go from the marital property. The family court will issue an order granting exclusive possession of the home.
Call an Experienced Divorce Lawyer to Discuss Changing Locks in a Legal Separation or Divorce
Before you change any locks in a separation or divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce lawyer can help you legally change the locks and other matters related to a contested divorce. When a spouse moved out can I change the locks issue arises it is best to talk to a lawyer. An experienced divorce and family law attorney can review the circumstance of your case and advise you accordingly.
In Michigan, contact a divorce lawyer at the Bruce Law Firm to discuss your legal situation. A family lawyer can assist you with all matters related to divorce proceedings. An attorney can assist in child support, child custody, spousal support, and equitable distribution of marital property. Contact our divorce law firm for a free consultation today.