Spouse moved out

My wife packed her bags and moved out a few days ago without any notice. I have no idea what her intentions are long term. She has refused to have sex with me for months. Both of our names are on the deed and mortgage for the house. Can I legally change the locks and get a court order to keep her from returning to the house? Also if I can prove she has committed adultery would that benefit me in any possible divorce proceedings?
Thank you for your assistance.

Yes, if she packed her stuff and moved out you can legally change the locks. I would do so immediately. You can inform her yourself that she is not to enter the house without your permission. You don’t need to get a court order for that. If you are the supporting spouse (i.e. the spouse who made more money in the relationship), then yes, proving adultery could enable you to forgo paying her alimony.

Since your wife has moved out you may change the locks. Her relocation allows you the right to exclusive possession of the residence and she may not return at this point. You do not need a court order to refuse her entry into the home.

Adultery can be used to bar any alimony claim she may have, or to bolster any claim you may have for the same. In North Carolina adultery is not a factor considered in property distribution.

Thank you so much for your insight and response. I am quite confused at the moment and was wondering if you could clarify something for me. I have not secured legal counsel yet but have made one exploratory phone call to a local lawyer. I told them that I was about to change the locks and they told me I absolutely have no right to do that and that she can reenter the house whenever she wants. As I stated earlier she moved out on her own and both of our names are on the deed and mortgage to the house. Now I have no idea what to do. Is it possible that you could state the general statute that gives me the right to change the locks and refuse her reentry?
Thank you for your help.

How long has she been gone? Did she just take her clothes (no personal possessions?)
Do you know where she is? Can you contact her?

I guess the gray line is whether she intends on coming back or is just taking ‘a break’.

If you can contact her (cell phone message,text,email), let her know that you assume she is out permanently and that you expect to hear from her within a few days to confirm or deny. If she doesn’t respond, they you can only assume she is gone for good. THEN I would say yes, you can (and should) change the locks. If you don’t, she could just come back in when you’re at work and clean the house out. I would also open a separate checking account. If you guys had anything joint, take 1/2 out now and move it to your account. KEEP RECORDS OF EVERYTHING.

If she can’t be found and doesn’t communicate, then you have to assume she wants it that way and you have to pursue protecting yourself and your assets.

Maybe Erin has a statute she can share.

If your spouse moved out of the home she has lost the right to possession and you may change the locks. If she reenters after moving out she could be subject to domestic criminal trespass.

14-134.3. Domestic criminal trespass
(a)Any person who enters after being forbidden to do so or remains after being ordered to leave by the lawful occupant, upon the premises occupied bya present or former spouse or by a person with whom the person charged has lived as if married, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor if the complainant and the person charged are living apart; provided, however, that no person shall be guilty if said person enters upon the premises pursuant to a judicial order or written separation agreement which gives the person the right to enter upon said premises for the purpose of visiting with minor children. Evidence that the parties are living apart shall include but is not necessarily limited to:
(1) A judicial order of separation;
(2) A court order directing the person charged to stay away from the premises occupied by the complainant;
(3) An agreement, whether verbal or written, between the complainant and the person charged that they shall live separate and apart, and such parties are in fact living separate and apart; or
(4) Separate places of residence for the complainant and the person charged.
Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, upon conviction, said person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a Class G felony if the person is trespassing upon property operated as a safe house or haven for victims of domestic violence and the person is armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the offense. (1979, c. 561, s. 2; 1993, c. 539, s. 76; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14©; 1998-212, s. 17.19(a).)

I recognize that a restraining order, 50b, applies to item 2 -
2) A court order directing the person charged to stay away from the premises occupied by the complainant;

What if the 50b is waived by the court? Could the party who was forced to leave be charged with domestic criminial trespass if they return to the home?

If you are allowed to return, what recourse is there if the locks or alarm code has been changed?

If the 50B was not granted after hearing, I would still advise against returning to the residence absent a judicial decree. If your spouse has filed for a 50B odds are the relationship is extremely tumultuous, and living together is not likely the ideal situation. I suggest you move forward and file for Equitable Distribution and make a motion seeking possession of the residence.

It has now become apparent that my wife may be spending time with another man and yada yada yada. As I said earlier she packed her things and a couple pieces of furniture and left. If it should turn out later on that we both want ownership of the house how would that be decided? (We have no children) Would I have a greater probability of getting the house because I am presently in it?
Thank you for all of your insight.

Your residence in the home at the time of disposition could be viewed in your favor if it turns out you both want the house.


My spouse has moved out. She took her work clothes, all of her toiletries and some other odds and ends. She has made it abundantly clear she is leaving the marriage. I asked her 3 times last weekend and she was emphatic about it all 3 times. My name is the only name on the home as I had to file a quick claim deed from a previous marriage/divorce. At this time no legalities have taken place. No separation agreement has been signed. I am quit certain we will not see eye to eye on some possessions. Since she has moved out, voiced her intentions clearly, we have no agreement and the home is in my name only, can I legally change the locks and force her to schedule a time when she can come and we can divide property while I am present. I have also been advised that having a Sherrif’s deputy on site at this time would be a wise move. She has shown violent tendancies and I have no idea what she may try. Thanks.

I’m not so much in a panic as I’ve been thru this drill before with my spouse. She’s been threatening or actually leaving off and on nearly all of our marriage as short a time as it has been. I’ve put her out once to send a message only to let her back in only for her to revert back to the same extreme behavior. I’m in protection mode at this point. I’ve let her walk all over me and that’s my fault, but enough is enough.

Yes, you may change the locks and negotiate a scheduled time in which she may come and take her things. And, yes, I would advise that you have either a sheriff or neutral party present, preferrably the former if you are concerned about any potential violence.

I’m not an attorney

Yes, you may change the locks and do not have to allow her back into the home, a deputy will not likely assist you in a property division unless there is a court order in place requiring the same.

I wouldn’t count on the Deputy to help divide the property. I mainly want them to be there to keep the peace as her behavior is unpredictable at this point. I don’t want to end up in a situation where it’s my word against hers if she attempted anything to harm me or my property. Would they not be able to assist in this way?

They likely will not come to the home to supervise your interaction, but will respond to a call made if a dispute arises.