Community Home – can I lock him out?
“He changed the locks!” “She locked me out and won’t let me back in!” Divorce doesn’t tend to bring out the best in people. There is a lot of anger, hurt, resentment and frustration. Unfortunately, if you are both on title, you each have an equal right to have access to and live in the community home. Typically, one spouse will agree to move out, but many times there is not enough money for the moving party (out spouse) to move.
Can the wife change the locks to keep him out? In a word, “No”. If you change the locks, he can legally break them and enter the home. If you call the police and ask that he be removed, the answer will be no, unless there is agreement of the out spouse. In addition, it would heighten the anger between the parties and doesn’t really solve anything.
Having said that, there are situations in which one spouse will need to move out of the house. If there is domestic violence or child abuse involved, the survivor can ask the court to order the offending spouse to move out of the house. There must be shown a real and imminent fear of the offending spouse. If a party goes to the court and asks that an exclusion be ordered without a good reason, the court will most likely deny the request.
A parent who has significant custody rights might also ask the judge to allow that parent to remain in the house for the children’s sake. It would be much more difficult for the parent with custody of three children to obtain adequate rental unit than one parent to find suitable lodgings who has visitation with the children on weekends . In that case the court may order one parent to move out of the house.
The best option is to try to resolve the issue between the parties (except in domestic violence cases) without going to court. It’s a coin toss to go to court.
NOTE: The above information is equally applicable to husbands and domestic partners.