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Asked by csievers - 6 years ago
property. He said his attorney advised him to do so.
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Richard Level 79 / Retired Dentist
Answered 6 years ago
NO not unles there is a court order in place.
Sadly this again is murky. While it may well be a jointly owned house if your wife feels threatened in any away she can refuse you access to the property, so yes, she can change the locks. The situation gets even more murky if she moves out and you remain in the house. In this instance if the financial dispute is ongoing you would be advised not to change the locks yourself because she could use that against you in court, and she has a right to enter the property.

She could of course enter the house herself while you’re not there and change them to lock you out. There is nothing illegal in her doing this, but if she doesn’t reside in the property you would have a right to break in and change them back again.

Remember, this is so long as she doesn’t reside there. You cannot break in if she lives in the house!

Simply put either of you can change the locks, but if your wife lives elsewhere either of you can change them back again. It’s best to avoid the situation altogether because changing locks several times a week is both pointless and expensive.

You can't be charged with breaking into your own property (my ex partner broke into ours, years ago). Therefore, if your name is on the Deeds, that should apply to you. On the other hand, your ex is also on the Deeds... so would have similar protection.
If the house is jointly owned technically you should not change the locks....but lets be practical about things.

Far better to do so and risk a minor rebuke from H or his solr when the benefits are peace of mind. In 30+ years of practice as a solicitor I have NEVER seen a client punished for such actions.

Cheaper than seeking an Occupation order

May I suggest though that before doing so you consider playing with a straight bat and invite H:

[a] to agree what contents he wants now (usually his personal possessions as the home should remain furnished so the C are not disrupted) so his need to come to the FMH is likely reduced

[b] Politely point out that if he wants to visit to collect further items that are agreed, you will endeavour to co-operate and in return as a matter of courtesy could he give you at least 48 hrs notice say by text of his intention to call. Then if necessary you can have a relative or friend present to ensure there is no nonsense from H.

Abusers like to "control"; he may feel that by changing the locks you are controling him for once!! If he feels though you are treating him fairly by ensuring inconvenience is not caused hopefully he will not kick off.

Remember always send texts/letters/e mails to your spouse which are neutral, businesslike and do not cause offence. If ultimately he kicks off and you seek the discretionary orders of the Court for an Occupation and/or non molestation and the District Judge sees you have sent reasonable communications to your spouse to sort the issue out and what you are doing is proportionate - and his actions are unreasonable then you will be in a better position to advance your position/case and get the order/relief you seek.

I am not a lawyer and good for me for that. I have had some college law.

So break in and change the locks on him.
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