Can your spouse lock you out of the house?

Question

My spouse has forced me out of the home by changing the lock. We own this house together. What are my rights? Can I stop paying the mortgage since I cannot live there now?

Answer

A spouse cannot force the other spouse out of the matrimonial home which is co-owned by both parties unless there is a Domestic Exclusion Order in place which excludes that spouse from entering that house because of violent behaviour.

If your spouse changes the lock to the matrimonial home and prevents you from entering, unless there is such a court order in place, you should call the police to be let back into the matrimonial home.

If you choose not to go back to the matrimonial home, you are still legally responsible for the mortgage payments together with your spouse. If there is a default in mortgage payments, the bank will sue both parties regardless of who lives in there.

There is another reason why you should continue with the mortgage payments – the court looks at each party’s direct contributions towards the family home in deciding how to divide the marital home. So, you should continue to pay, and ask the court to give you a slightly greater share because you were denied the opportunity of living there.

Author

Sheila Cheng

Specialist Family Lawyer

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