Changing locks

As long as both parties acknowlege the seperation, you can change the locks. If it is an apartment or other leased property you need to take his name off at the leasing office or else he will be able to get a key anytime he wants.

Yes…if you are separated, you SHOULD change the locks. He should have no objection. Once he leaves, he has to call and be invited back to the house…and you vice versa to his place of residence. It is good if you both have a civil manner in allowing him to get what he needs. But he should understand that it is your house now to live in. If there are legal issues (selling the house, signing deed over) then technically, he has interest in the house financially-but not physically.

Hurt: Time will HEAL the hurt. Believe me-I know. I hope you can maintain or regain a civil relationship with your STBX for your sanity and his and especially if you have children together. Life does go on and it’s SO short.

sure you can change the locks, my ex did. and i still find it to be the dumbest and cruelest thing she ever did… my goodness, civility, but locked out… oh well, just my opinion


How is changing the locks cruel? Why would you object to that? Sure she could trust you not to enter without permission, but every situation is different. I have been through divorce and mine was relatively civil, but I still changed the locks because it isn’t his home anymore. And it isn’t ‘dumb’. For example- what IF things went bad after the split? Could I trust that he would respect my wishes not to enter without permission? Maybe, maybe not-but I wouldn’t take the chance. Does she have a key to YOUR place??

My husband’s ex took all the living room furniture (except his recliner), bedroom furniture and one of the kids rooms furniture, two of the TV’s and he still had to change the locks. They had a pretty amicable separation until he started dating. She was on her 3rd boyfriend in a month but after she found out we were dating, she went over while he was at work, took all the pictures off the walls, took curtains, even took the kids shower curtain. She called to tell him she was going back over to take the vacuum, pots and pans, and dining room table and was going to put holes in the walls of every room and trash anything else that she could think of. So he changed the locks.
Legally, once separation has begun, the spouse that is no longer living in the marital home has no right being there unless invited. If your husband shows up without your knowledge or consent, you can call the police and have him arrested. The same is true for you and his place of residence.

Don’t change the locks until you have a written separation agreement. I changed the locks after my wife left. She had already taken all of the money from our joint bank account and all of the small valuable items from the house when she left. I tried to protect what was left, but since her name was still on the deed, she was able to get the police to break into one of the doors. Once she had access, she hired a moving company to take most of the furniture, the washer and dryer, etc.

You don’t have to have a separation agreement to be separated. As trbotina suggested, if you have both acknowledged the separation you can legally change the locks.
Regardless of whether you have a separation agreement you are entitled to 1/2 the marital assets and 1/2 the marital debts. That comes down to furniture and bank accounts. If she was able to have the police break into your home then you should file a complaint with the police department as to the fact that this was your home and they allowed her entry after date of separation.
I have a friend who’s wife left and took all of his stuff. I mean she left the some of her stuff and took all of his. Expensive clothing, collectables, family heirlooms, even down to taking his hairbrush. He had to petition the courts to get back even 1/2 of it. The stuff she left, he burned, trashed or donated. The day that your wife or husband moves out of the marital home, separation begins and the house is “yours” until equitable distribution is decided. The locks should be changed.
If your spouse is not trying to clean you out then they should have no problem contacting you to set up an appointed time and date to come over while you are home to get said items.
A separation agreement, in theory, only keeps the equitable distribution from being decided in court. It means that you and your spouse agree that this is what is staying, this is what’s going, and who is responsible for what debts and who gets to keep what accounts. It’s a good idea to get a separation agreement so that thing are simpler. A year from now when/if the divorce comes up everything is already split. It is never supposed to be she/he takes everything and the other is left without any means to survive until the year is up. If that is your situation ure then you should file a complaint, hire a lawyer to petition the courts so that you can get at least half of your furniture and bank account balance at the time of separation back and make sure that you change the locks, contact the neighbors and install a security system if necessary. If your spouse has a separate residence then that is no longer her home. That would be like a rental company breaking into an apartment just because their name is on the deed. They don’t live there…they don’t gain entry without consent or approval from the person who does. This is called domestic criminal trespass and though it is rarely prosecuted is still illegal.

Dear hurt:

Yes, if he has his own new residence (apartment, house, etc.) then you can change the locks. Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

301 McCullough Drive Suite 510
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax

1829 East Franklin Street, Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
919.321.0780 main phone
919.787.6668 main fax


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

My husband and I have separated and he has moved out of our home. Can I legally change the locks on the doors for my own privacy and security? He is welcomed any time to come and get whatever he wishes that I had rather he not have access when I am not at home.