In nearly every divorce the question comes up, “Can I change the locks?” The short answer is no you cannot change the locks during a divorce. You may be asking why? You may be saying, “But she/he does not live here anymore?” You may be saying, “But I do not want him/her to come take my stuff?” Whatever the case may be the answer is still no, but let’s discuss it below.
Violates Temporary Restraining Order and Standing Orders!
In many divorces, the attorneys will either file a request for a Temporary Restraining Order or the county has Standing Orders in place. These Orders state that you cannot prevent each other from access to the residence, must not waste community assets, cannot destroy items, cannot tamper with items at the residence, etc. If the other party does any of these things then you have remedies in Court and the Judge will not look favorably towards your spouse. Changing the locks after a Temporary Restraining Order has been signed or after a Petition for Divorce is filed in a County with Standing Orders will be in violation of that order. Then you are the party that the Judge is not looking favorably upon.
Even Without Temporary Restraining Order or Standing Orders?
Even in cases where there is no Temporary Restraining Order or Standing Orders, imagine a scenario where your spouse wants to retrieve his/her personal items and goes to the house, puts key in the lock, but it does not work. When the Judge hears this the Judge is going to be asking himself/herself, “why would he/she do this to his/her spouse?”
When thinking about your case, always think, if I do this what will it look like to the Judge? If you cannot think of a favorable outcome with the Judge or it is not done to protect your safety (that you can prove to the Judge) then perhaps it is not the right thing to do during your divorce.