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My husband abandoned me 2 weeks ago. He comes back in the house when I am not home. Can I legally change the locks? Thank you!

Dallas, TX |

Husband texted me two days ago telling me he filed for divorce. This was a physically abusive relationship and I called the police on him probably five times.

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Attorney answers 1


The answer to that question can vary depending upon whether your husband has actually filed for divorce. If you have not been served with papers, but believe that your husband may have filed for divorce, you may conduct a search by name on the Dallas Family District Court website, found at - under the "Civil, Family & Probate Case Information" link. Once a case is filed in Dallas County, the Court will issue a General Order that, among other things, orders both the husband and wife to refrain from excluding the other spouse from the use and enjoyment of their residence. If such an order has been issued in your case, then you will need to file a Motion for Temporary Orders, in which you can ask the Court to award you with the exclusive use of your residence while your divorce is pending.

Even if your husband has not yet filed for divorce and no General Order has been issued, it is advisable to proceed with filing for divorce yourself and filing a Motion for Temporary Orders as described above. Without an order from the Court giving you the exclusive use of the residence, you will not have a legal right to exclude your husband and will receive no assistance from the police if you attempt to do so. In answer to your question, what this means for you is that if you were to change the locks without first obtaining a Temporary Order from the Court which awards you exclusive use of the residence, then your husband would still legally be able to break into the home or gain access by other means.

If you have immediate concerns for your safety, you may file for a Protective Order in conjunction with the filing of your Petition for Divorce, which would allow the Court to issue certain Temporary Restraining Orders to protect you from your husband until the Court conducts a hearing to establish the Temporary Orders that will govern your rights and property while the divorce is pending.

Opinions which I have provided on this site should not be construed as establishing an attorney/client relationship. No attorney/client relationship may be assumed without express written contract by which I agree to represent you on a specified legal matter.

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