Can I change locks on my home before divorce?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I change locks on my home before divorce?

We have been only married 7 months, he has only mail that comes there. His belongings are still there and he refuses to leave. I have 2 children from previous marriage and we cannot stay in house when he is there. So can I change the locks and is I do can he legally

break in? I am the sole owner of the home.

Asked on August 12, 2017 under Family Law, Illinois


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Regardless of whose name that the house is in, until a formal separation agreement has been entered into or a final decree of divorce has been granted, the house remains the "joint marital residence". This means that you both have the right to live there, even if your husband has moved out. Therefore, do not change the locks; legally it is still his home. And if you do change them, he can re-key the locks to get back in.

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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