If my husband changed the locks without telling me and now I don’t have access to my home or property, is this legal even if I have served him with divorce papers?

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If my husband changed the locks without telling me and now I don’t have access to my home or property, is this legal even if I have served him with divorce papers?

I served my husband with divorce papers at the end of last month. I went to drop off paperwork to him and the locks were changed and someone is living in our house. I still pay half the mortgage even though I’m not living there at the moment and I still have property in the home. He changed the locks without telling me and now I don’t have access to my home or property. Is this legal?

Asked on February 16, 2019 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your husband did not have the right to change the locks to your house. The fact is that until there exists either a legal separation agreement or final decree of divorce which dictates who has the sole right to occupancy, your home remains the "joint marital residence". This is true no matter whose name is on the deed and whether or not you have moved out. Accordingly, you have the right to change the locks and gain entry to the house. You may want to contact your local police department for help with this, although they may decline to get involved since this is a civil matter. If this is the case, you should consult directly with a local divorce attorney who can best advise you further, especially since there is a 3rd person involved and things can get complicated quickly in such a situation. That having been said, as a legal owner, your husband has the right to invite whoever he wants to live at the house.

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Your husband did not have the right to change the locks to your house. The fact is that until there exists either a legal separation agreement or final decree of divorce which dictates who has the sole right to occupancy, your home remains the "joint marital residence". This is true no matter whose name is on the deed and whether or not you have moved out. Accordingly, you have the right to change the locks and gain entry to the house. You may want to contact your local police department for help with this, although they may decline to get involved since this is a civil matter. If this is the case, you should consult directly with a local divorce attorney who can best advise you further, especially since there is a 3rd person involved and things can get complicated quickly in such a situation. That having been said, as a legal owner, your husband has the right to invite whoever he wants to live at the house. 


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