Ifmy wife packed up and left without a word, can I change the locks to protect my personal property?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2011

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Ifmy wife packed up and left without a word, can I change the locks to protect my personal property?

She took some of her personal items and some of my step-daughter’s personal items, the dog, and the cat. She also took a Christmas gift intended for my oldest daughter. So I guess I am asking what are my options for limiting her entry to my home without my being here?

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Family Law, Michigan


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Unless you go to court and obtain temporary order giving you the exclusive right and possession to the house (or apartment), there really isn't anything that you can do.  At this point, the house (or apartment) is still considered to be the joint marital residence; and this is true regardless of whose name is on the deed (or lease).  Right now you need to speak directly with a divorce attorney.  Once temporary orders are issued, things will be different.  And whatever you do, do not be tempted to use a little self-help such as putting her things out in the street or even into storage.  There could be both criminal and civil penalties if you do.

Note:  If she puts you in fear for your personal physical safety, then you may be able to apply for a protective order which would result in her immediate bar from the premises. 

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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