Hello, my name is Robin and I own a medium sized business which is based in a suburb of Perth, Australia. Many business owners do not understand the importance of commercial law on their operations. I know that I certainly didn't when I set out. At first, this wasn't an issue but as my business grew, I realised that if I didn't teach myself about the legal rules in place and seek expert help, I would find myself in serious trouble. I got in touch with a great law firm who helped me to understand exactly what I needed to know. I decided to start this blog to help other business owners.
In an ideal world, when two parties go through a separation, then they would discuss everything calmly and collectively and come to a mutually agreeable decision. However, this doesn't always happen and sometimes there can be a degree of acrimony involved. During these times, it can be difficult for both parties to live under the same roof and one party may in fact not want this to happen. What kind of standing do you have, if you want to keep your previous partner out of the house? Can you just go ahead and change the locks if you want to?
Unravelling the Answer
The answer will largely be determined by who owns the property in question. Do you have legal title to the home, or is it a little more complicated than that?
Who Is the Legal Owner?
If both of you own the home in question then either of you has the right to change the locks to the front door, if you want to. You should know, however, that your "ex" will ordinarily have the right to regain access without your permission.
If you own the home outright then you do have the right to swap everything over, but it may be a good idea for you to provide advance notice to the other party, so that they can retain whatever possessions they need to.
Sometimes the property in question is only rented. Usually, the landlord will give permission for the locks to be changed but you need to give them a spare key. If your former partner is already on the lease, you will be obliged to give them a spare as well, unless there is some kind of intervention order in place.
If you really want to formalise it, then you may have to apply for a decision from a family court. Usually, they will only issue such an order in the short term if there are some concerns about safety or behaviour. If an intervention order is issued then you do have the right to sole occupancy of the property and can change the locks immediately.
What is driving you to ask the question in the first place? If you're simply trying to move on and protect your belongings in the event that there is a spare key around "somewhere," then this is one situation. However, if you're just trying to be punitive, and you want to lock the other person out due to an argument or even in anger, then this may come back to haunt you down the road. The other party could accuse you of being harsh, especially if they don't immediately have some else to live. This could have a bearing on how everything pans out when it comes to finalising a divorce or property settlement.
Getting Sage Advice
It's never a good idea to act in the heat of the moment. It is always a better idea to get in touch with a lawyer specialising in family law for advice.