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Old 10-20-2013, 12:40 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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Originally Posted by Mother View Post
Oh and we've been advised (write or wrong) that we cannot change the lock because the other party is on the title of the house.
Of course you may change the lock. The other party may call a locksmith and/or break in, but you are not breaking any laws by changing the locks. So why change the locks? Because 9 times out of 10, even a hostile ex will get the message and stay away. However I would not recommend changing the locks until AFTER the ex has a permanent residence and they have had opportunity to claim their personal possessions in full.

One thing I would especially recomment is installing dead bolts on the doors to secure the home while you are inside.

Here is the thing about locks:
  • If the title is in one name, then the property belongs to that person; the value must be split, but the other person has no right to the title.
  • The other person may have a right to continued residence after separation as per the Family Law Act; this will have to be settled by arguing for exclusive possession. This part of the law is to prevent someone from being thrown out on the street, or in consideration of child custody. It is not intended to give a non-owner long-term possession or access.
  • If the title is in both names, then both are co-owners.
  • If the other party has just moved out and is couch-surfing with relatives, then they are still a resident of the house.
  • If they have a new address, signed a lease, etc, then the house is no longer their residence, even though they may be part owner.
  • If the other person is no longer a resident, then the current resident has a right to privacy and security of their possessions while not at home, and certainly complete privacy evenings and while sleeping.
  • If an ex started entering the property at will, this would not be immediately addressed by the police because they try not to get in the middle of family law issues, but it would be immediate grounds for exclusive possession and/or a restraining order.
  • A judge will certainly protect the right of a person to eat dinner, come out of the shower, sleep, etc. without being confronted by an ex-spouse entering without warning.
  • If the ex is still joint owner, they have a right to enter at a reasonable time, with reasonable notice. They don't have a right to come and go as they please, but you will need to see a judge to get this enforced.
The first thing you should do if you have one is change the code on the alarm system. As well, for < $50 or so you can get security cameras that will monitor by internet, or alert you with a motion detector and take photos. These can be great if you are half-expecting the other party to come when you are away and empty the house.

For the OP, the ex may possibly have access to the house, but the relatives have no business entering on their own and if they have taken anything that is your personal property, it is theft. The police may not wish to lay charges in a family law case, but you can swear out a complaint with a justice of the peace. I would also strongly consider small claims court, as this can easily be done by self-rep. Just make sure you have some factual evidence.

For personal possessions, photograph them and if they have any value, especially give a list to your insurance company. This will help give you factual evidence if your ex takes them.
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