How to handle car keys


We own two vehicles, both of us are on the titles to these vehicles, and we each have a key to both vehicles. She has already stated she will be moving out at the end of this week and will be taking the newer vehicle.

I plan to have the house locks changed once she moves, but thought that since she would have a key to my vehicle that would give her access to it and its contents, which includes my garage door opener, and that would defeat the purpose of getting the house locks changed. So, what is the best way to handle this? How do I get her to give me the key to my vehicle when she leaves? Should I offer to swap that key with the key I currently have to the vehcile she will be taking? Does that in any way appear to the courts (if it come sto that), that I am content letting her have the newer vehicle?

BTW, she does not know I plan to change the house locks when she leaves, and she appears to be naive enough to me to think she will still be able to come and go when she pleases. Asking for the key exchange would probably clue her in though.



If you allow her to take the vehicle then the courts will look at this situation as though you agreed to this division. If you do not agree to allow her to take that vehicle then you should get something in writing that this is temporary until the ED is settled or that you are willing to allow her to have the other vehicle. Otherwise, you probably should accept that the vehicle title will need to be changed and that this is part of the ED. It’s difficult to work out ED while still living together, and alot can change in the time it takes for a final agreement to be signed…

You will each need to exchange keys, and if necessary you can wait until the day that she moves to avoid any issues. You should have the locks changed the next day, but prepare yourself for her to be angry. If she’s assuming that she will be able to come and go at her whim, and that this will anger her once it’s realized, then you should make her aware that this is in both your best interests. Neither of you would be allowed at the other’s residence without permission or invitation. Once you have informed her that the locks are changed and she is no longer allowed on the property, legally, she could be charged for domestic tresspass if she does come to the home. While I realize that this is not much comfort, it does present some action that can be taken when she gets angry at the results of her moving out. Take pictures of the home after she leaves…move all financial paperwork to a secure location, buy a lockbox, start a journal indicating dates and events, start a “divorce file”.

I commend you on your behavior. You don’t seem to want to be vindictive but you want to protect yourself financially and it sounds as though you are keeping a level head in the midst of this event. Try to hang on to that…


Thanks for the advice. I am not vindictive, and maybe that is because I am still in some form of ‘shock’, but I think a large part of it is that I believe she is having some sort of mental issue and I am having compassion for her more than anything. My main interest here is the children and that certainly weighs on my responses/reactions.
(That and my ‘life is too short’ attitude.)

To give an example, I/we have tried to remain civil through this, especially since we have two young children in the house. Over the weekend we had a few low-key, civil conversations/interactions. Throughout the weekend she washed my clothes, made dinner, set my table spot, even filled my drinking glass - and some of this is stuff she very rarely did over the last few years. So I sense some remorse for her plans & upcoming actions.

After the uneventful weekend, I thought things were improving and thought we needed to talk so I took the opportunity when the kids were not in the room. I asked her what her plans were and she said she was moving out later this week. I asked if she was willing to go to marriage counseling and she said it was too late for that and that we needed to be away from each other for a while.

I don’t think a reasonable person acts/thinks like that. If any action is needed here, in my estimation it should be marriage counseling, Psychiatrist, seperation, in that order if the issues were not resolved along the way.


I suggest that you may want to seek counseling regardless of where this separation leads. At the very least, find one person that you can discuss all of this with. It’s been my experience that you can not work on a marriage or relationship once one of you leave the home…having “time to sort things out” or “time away from each other” is normally caused by a 3rd party. Keep in mind that this is only my own experience, but I’ve found it rare that women have the cause to dissolve a relationship unless there is a “safety net”, though I know it does happen. It depends largely on the type of person and their experiences. Whether or not your spouse shares your “life is too short” attitude could influence her decision to remain in an unhappy marriage or strive to make her life better regardless of whether that means staying married.

I found, in my own past, that once I began to focus on myself and changing my own life in order to be happier, it became a great deal easier to let go of unhealthy relationships. As in, letting go of someone who did not truly want to be with me any longer…or someone who was only with me out of convenience. It made the results, of what I considered failed relationships, easier to accept. It is a good idea to have someone on your side, who has your best interest at heart. Children adapt better than we sometimes would think. It’s difficult to shield them from everything and depending on their ages, there may be little that they remember. My stepsons had an easier time once they realized that there were a lot of their friends that were going through or had gone through similar situations.
Keep in mind that things will get easier and that you are not the alone in the way you feel, as most of us could tell you.
I will keep you and your children in my thoughts.


Curious to see how Erin responds…


Before your wife leaves you should remove your personal effects from the vehicle she will be taking, including the garage door opener. I wouldn’t be too concerned about her having a key to your car, and you having the spare to hers. Allowing her to take a vehicle is not a distribution of property, and does not mean that you cannot later be awarded that vehicle.


Erin, not sure if you followed, but for one thing, the GDO is programmed into the link buttons of the vehicle she will be taking. It is not a seperate GDO unit, so I cannot just remove that from her vehicle. However, my way around that is to just unplug the GDO it is associated with in the garage (we have two garage doors in the garage, one on her side and one on mine. Therefore we have two GDOs in the garage. I can unplug hers and still keep mine in working order).

Secondly, my vehicle WOULD HAVE a GDO unit in it, so if she has a key to my vehicle, then she would also have access to the GDO that is in it, and that GDO IS a seperate unit. Thus she can show up at my office, enter the vehicle, take the GDO and go to the house, enter through the garage and clean out the house while I am cluelessly working that day.

If need be, I’ll unplug my GDO also, but that makes it rather inconvenient for me - having to come & go through the front door of the house.

There has to be a better/easier way to handle the vehicle key /GDO sitaution…


Hmmm…seems I would disconnect both and be inconvenienced by using the front door rather than risk her entering the property. The car doesn’t allow you to ‘reprogram’ the code of the GDO? What if you moved? And had a new GDO?


It can be reprogrammed, but not sure if it can be cleared, if you see what I mean. In order to reprogram, you’d need another GDO to set the code, but I would not have one to use for that purpose, so if the code cannot be cleared, I am out of luck w/ that option. Plus it takes two people to program it - one on a ladder pressing a button on the GDO and the other in the vehicle pressing the link button.

Sometimes life sucks!


A lot of times, yanking the battery cable completely off then replacing it can reset just about anything electrical on a car. You could try this on hers.