A bitter divorce that is fueled by anger and distrust can lead to many bad choices being made by both parties. There are a number of things that a person going through a divorce can do that will seriously hurt his or her chances of receiving a fair settlement. One of the most harmful things a person getting divorced can do is preventing his or her spouse from coming into the marital home. Understanding all of the possible repercussions of restricting your spouse’s access to the marital home will hopefully save you from making a costly mistake in the middle of your divorce.
Your Spouse’s Rights
Until your divorce is finalized and the judge has issued an order regarding who gets the marital home, expect to share joint ownership of your home with your spouse for the duration of the divorce. Each spouse has an equal right to enter the home and should expect reasonable access to that property. Things usually get confusing when one spouse decides to leave the marital home during the divorce. While this is not recommended, the stress and overall awkwardness of sharing a home with a person you no longer want to be married to makes living together uncomfortable at best and intolerable at worst. Unfortunately, your ex’s decision to move out of the marital home does not automatically mean that he or she no longer has any right to return to the home.
Examples of Restricting Access
The most common form of access restriction is changing the locks on the doors. When this is done, your spouse can no longer use his or her key to gain entry to the house and must wait until you decide to give him or her access to the property. Another form of restricting access is installing security systems on the property that record your spouse’s actions and activate an alarm whenever he or she enters the house. If you already have a security alarm, do not have the current access code changed to one your spouse does not know, forcing him or her to leave the property after setting off the alarm.
Unless you have a reason to feel concerned or fearful about your spouse accessing the marital home (for example you are a victim of domestic violence and have obtained a restraining order), you could face serious repercussions for restricting your spouse’s access to the home. The police may be called to your home, leading to a potentially embarrassing confrontation in front of your neighbors that may end in your spouse being granted access to the house regardless of your wishes. Alternatively, your spouse could take the situation to court and receive an order from the court granting him or her access to the marital home or even exclusive possession of the house, depending upon the circumstances.
Get Legal Advice
If you no longer want your spouse to have access to your marital home, there are legal ways to obtain this concession. A division of property attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum can explore your options with you and help you determine the best way to receive sole access to a marital home during your divorce. Contact us today to schedule a consultation so that we can begin discussing your case.