If a relationship ends, can one of the owners be locked out?

UPDATED: Oct 29, 2011

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If a relationship ends, can one of the owners be locked out?

My significant other and I ended our relationship after 17 years. We have 2 children and purchased a home together. He got caught cheating was asked to leave and he did. He will not give me his set of keys. I wanted to know, do I have the right to change the locks without recourse? His name is on the mortgage but he no longer lives in the home.

Asked on October 29, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

One of the owners may *not* be locked out by the other one. If you both own the home, you both have equal rights to it; neither may evict the other. The best way to resolve this is with a voluntary settlement: one of you agrees to buy out the interest or share of the other; or you both jointly agree to either sell the home and split the proceeds or to rent it out (while living elsewhere) and share the rental income; etc. If you cannot come to a mutually acceptable agreement, then your recourse would be to bring a legal action (generally called an action for partition) in which the court will order the sale of the property and distribution of the proceeds.

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