Changing the locks…when is it legal?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Can a husband or wife be thrown out of the marital home?  The answer is “it depends”.  Certainly if there is domestic violence and the police are called, if they arrest one of the spouses, there is a no contact order put in place until a hearing before the court two weeks later.  The alleged perpetrator is immediately removed from the marital home.

If a spouse voluntarily moves out of the marital home, but his/her name is clearly on the deed, or the lease, as the case may be, the remaining spouse under the law cannot change the locks unless the moving spouse has all his/her personal effects and gives permission.  Under this circumstance, it is advisable for the moving spouse to take photos of the contents of the marital home before moving out.

Moving out of a marital residence, in the state of Florida, does not constitute abandonment.  In other words, if a moving spouse has a title interest in the leasehold or fee simple property, he/she does not lose rights by vacating.

In divorce cases, often a temporary relief court order awards a marital residence to one or the other spouse for exclusive use and possession of the marital residence, pending the divorce proceedings.  In that case, and with the court order, the remaining spouse can change the locks.  The moving spouse is allowed access to get personal property from the home, often accompanied by a police officer and by appointment with the remaining spouse.

For more information about changing the locks or other divorce topics, call on one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at http://www.familylawwpb.com.

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