At the beginning of the divorce, most couples need to physically separate, but deciding who stays and who goes is very difficult. Living together while seeking a divorce can cause many issues, including but not limited to:
- A hostile environment for the couple and their children,
- Increased chances of confrontation, and
- Inability to move forward.
Most of the time, the difficult question of who is going to stay and who is going to go resolves itself, as the spouses start planning their future apart. Occasionally, though, a family law judge has to get involved and make a preliminary determination as to which party gets exclusive use of the house. This situation is not common.
Change the Locks?
There are only a few cases where unilaterally changing the locks on the marital home is a good idea. These situations are extremely rare because it is almost always a bad decision to lock your partner out of their home. Also, it’s highly unlikely to work.
If the spouse is on the title – and sometimes even if they’re not – they can make arrangements with a locksmith to come over, usually within an hour, to change the locks, too. Then you’re the one locked out. It’s a race to the locksmith who makes enough money on the deal to pay for his next vacation.
Spouses can play the locksmith game for days, with no healthy or productive resolution. By the time they get this dispute in front of a judge, the judge thinks they’re both crazy. A better choice is if you’re the spouse who gets locked out, hire the best divorce lawyer you can find and negotiate an arrangement that doesn’t involve an enriched locksmith.