If my husband has moved out of our house but is still paying the mortgage, canI change the locks?

UPDATED: Nov 13, 2011

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If my husband has moved out of our house but is still paying the mortgage, canI change the locks?

Asked on November 13, 2011 under Family Law, Massachusetts


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No you cannot. Unless or until there is a formal separation agreement or court order that stipulates which spouse as the right to possession of the house, both spouses have equal rights to live there. Once the divorce is finalized, the decree will stipulate who has control of the house after that.This is true no matter who is paying the mortgage (or whose name is on it). The fact is that the house is considered to be the "joint marital residence". Consequently, both parties have equal rights to live there.

The exception here would be if one party is deemed to be a danger to the other. Then that party could be removed immediately to insure the safety of the other spouse (or occupants).

At this point you need to speak to directly to a divorce attorney in your area. They can best explain your rights and responsibilities.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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