Your spouse has left the home.  You don’t know if they have a lawyer or whether divorce is imminent, but you are afraid or concerned because they have free access to the home.  What is the law, and what do you do?

Until a court order is entered, both spouses have access to the home.  The remaining spouse can change the locks or install a security system, but the other spouse still has a legal right to enter the premises as long as they do not cause a “breach of the peace.”  They can simply get a deed to the house and get a locksmith to let them in.  In such situations, the alarm system is probably the best protection you could have, but it won’t, in the end, keep them out.

Whether one opts to change the locks or install a security system, there are other measures to take.  The first is to have a trusted neighbor or two who are home much of the time keep an eye on the house and let you know if a moving van shows up in the drive way.  Another important step is to take valuable or irreplaceable items out of the house.  Things such as rings, watches, inherited items, valuable collections, valuable guns, etc. should simply be removed and put in a safe place.  Finally, inventory and video tape your personal possessions.  This will be helpful in identifying “lifted” items and it will also be helpful in the event of a divorce because all property must be inventoried and appraised.

(P.S. If you are the one leaving, you better take everything you want, or you may have trouble getting it later, but that’s the subject of another blog.)

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