We get this question quite frequently – “My wife moved out. Can I change the locks?”

A potential client will call looking for advice. His spouse moved out and is living somewhere else. Can he legally change the locks? Can the wife legally break into the home if she wants to return?

The short answer is “no.” You do not legally have the right to change the locks on a house and prevent your wife from re-entering the home under such circumstances. There are other circumstances, however, where you may have the right to change the locks on your wife.

Changing Locks During Separation or Divorce

Once you file for divorce, you can petition the Court for an order signed by the Judge that gives you exclusive use of the home. This order does allow you to change the locks to the home and prevent your wife from re-entering.

If your wife has committed some sort of act of violence towards you, then you may be able to get a Personal Protection Order (PPO) signed in the county where you live. A PPO can stipulate that your wife is not allowed to come to the house at all, or even to come near you.

Contact ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, child support, property division, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising in fighting for the rights of every client.