changing the locks

During a divorce, both spouses generally have the right to enter the marital home they have shared—even if one spouse has moved out of the home—and even if that spouse does not have an ownership interest in the home (“is not on the deed”) because, for example, the home was owned by the occupying spouse before the marriage.

A divorcing spouse may be allowed to change the locks on the marital home in a few limited circumstances: (1) the spouse occupying the home has obtained a protective order—also known as a stay away order of protection, an order of protection, or a restraining order; (2) the spouse occupying the home has requested and received a court order granting the occupying spouse the exclusive use and occupancy of the home; or (3) the spouse who has moved out of the house has agreed in writing—signed and notarized before a notary public—that the occupying spouse will have the exclusive use and occupancy of the home.

Because laws vary from state to state, and because of the potential consequences of wrongfully denying your spouse access to the marital home during a separation or divorce, a spouse considering taking such action should first consult with an attorney.

State Statutes for the State of Texas

Federal Statutes