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If you’re an owner of the house, or a co-owner, you can technically change the locks if you wish. If you live in the house, and your spouse has moved out of the house – you can change the locks if you wish.
Assuming you are the sole owner of the home; your spouse can’t come back into the house without your permission. You are 100% correct to change the locks, and won’t face any legal issues. However, say your spouse is a co-owner on the house, legally speaking – in this case, if you change the locks – you may be in trouble legally.
If your spouse tries to get back into the house, you cannot stop him/her. If your spouse enters the house again, or breaks the locks to the house – he or she will not get in trouble legally. That’s because he/she is also a legal owner – and it’s not illegal for an owner of a home to break into his/her home.
As a result, we typically recommend you have some sort of written agreement in place – when you ask your spouse to leave. This way, it ensures he, or she, will not return to the house. If you fear for your safety, it might be helpful to get an order of protection against the spouse. When you do this, it stops the spouse from returning to the home – even if he, or she, owns the home. This is probably the only way to ensure that even if you change the locks, your spouse doesn’t return back, or trying entering the home without your permission.
With an order of protection, even if she/he enters the home, you can ask them to leave – or call the police, to help force the spouse to leave. If you are afraid of your spouse, we encourage you to contact our NYC divorce lawyers today for a risk free consultation. Many of our attorneys have experience when it comes to dangerous spouses, who may harm you – and try to enter the home again.