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Topic:
Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage (12 Posts)
Started By:
Date:
02 March, 2018 11:05AM
Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
shambolic - 02 March, 2018 11:05AM
Hi All,

If a wife and husband reach the point of no return, and she goes to stay with her family in another city. Is the husband allowed to change the locks and would he be liable financially in any other way (like if she wants to come back does he need to pay for her accommodation or something).

The husband was pretty much duped into marriage by a girl who had family in the UK but she wasn't British. She has blackmailed him and threatened to report him for all sorts of things if he divorces her.

Now that she's out, he is afraid of her return (should she try and set him up with DV or something). she's already taken all her valuables and left but I doubt it's permanent.

He is filing for divorce and it is with the lawyers to sort out. The lawyers did advise that as the property is fully paid years before the marriage in his name, it's pretty much ring-fenced.

In this scenario, are there consequences to changing the locks as it seems to be the safest option to prevent any retaliations, especially as she packed all valuables and left.

How can he go about changing locks with minimal repercussions?

There's no kids, marriage less than 2 years and she pretty much set this up for a passport under the guidance of her dodgy relatives.

Any help is appreciated.

Edit - Note that for this case it would be Scottish law, in case English law has a stronger bias toward her claim to the house.
He is happy to go ahead and pay her what she is legally allowed as long as he can move on with his life, but there is a lot of stress and anxiety as to her threats and what she may do if she comes back to the property.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2018 11:17AM by shambolic.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
sjb1990 - 02 March, 2018 10:06PM
Ive been adviced under no circumstances do not change the locks by solicitors, as this will go against you if it become a court battle basically. But you could do a sneaky I guess and change them anyway and say the key snapped and have a key ready to give her if she does return but I wouldn't change every lock.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
shambolic - 03 March, 2018 09:19AM
Thanks for the response. In theory she doesn't need to come back as she's gone with her family, but it is stressful to know she can pop by any time while at work, and either take things, or provoke/attack the husband.

When you say it goes against you in a court battle, does that mean there is something more than the division of marital assets? I wouldn't have thought there's compensation or something they would give her?
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
Willapp - 03 March, 2018 02:38PM
Caveat: I am not a solicitor. However, in reading various forums and articles regarding divorce, I don't think it's that uncommon if after separation one of the parties vacates the FMH (former marital home) then they give up right to return and you are entitled to protect your privacy by changing the locks.

Your argument is further strengthened if you can prove that you are the title holder of the property (even if your ex may have some small future claim to a share of its value). I think all your ex can do in this scenario is request in a reasonable timeframe that you allow them access to retrieve personal belongings, or arrange for those belongings to be delivered to her.

If she returned and found the locks changed, and decided to call the police, I very much doubt they would get involved if you explained the circumstances and that it is your property. They are unlikely to force you to give her access.

Personally I would strongly recommend that you DO change the locks, because otherwise she may return to the property at a time she knows you won't be there, and could in theory do the same to you, at which point you might suffer the same difficulty in regaining access to your own property. In these scenarios possession seems to be 9/10ths of the law so you are better off restricting her right to return than being on the receiving end.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
shambolic - 04 March, 2018 08:04AM
Thank you for the response. It does sound logical to change the locks now that she has left, and obviously the prospect of having an opponent in court with a green light to enter your home whether you like it or not is something one needs to mitigate.

In terms of implications however, most articles online and from what I hear from lawyers imply that this is looked upon unfavourably by judges. This is something I don't quite understand. Lawyers also state that until the divorce you are responsible for maintaining the spouse.

In such a scenario, do you foresee negative financial implications? Like when it goes to the settlement stage can she say she wasn't housed for however long it took to finalise the divorce and as a result she is entitled to accommodation or something? even a hotel?

It does sound far-fetched considering a pre-marital property in a single name tends to be ring-fenced in scottish law, but it's the implications I worry about. i.e. most lawyers would likely say you cannot change the locks, but in reality the question is if you DO change the locks where would you be penalised in the divorce proceedings?

Thanks again to everyone for their feedback.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
Willapp - 04 March, 2018 04:20PM
Again I am not giving qualified advice here, and I'm in England not Scotland, but given I have done a lot of research into my own upcoming divorce situation, I can offer the following advice:

1) I'm not sure why the courts would take a dim view of you changing the locks providing that your ex wasn't homeless as a result. Given she is currently staying with family elsewhere, I don't see how she could claim that your changing the locks caused her any unreasonable distress - again providing you could arrange for any belongings to be returned to her.

2) Regarding spousal maintenance. Again assuming she is currently able to support herself (by staying with family and earning enough money for food), then the only issue of financial settlement happens towards the end of the divorce process. You do not need to pay her anything until then. She could apply for what I believe is an "interim maintenance order" for you to provide financial support until the divorce is completed, but again I think this is only common where she has no source of income and needs money from you to put a roof over her head and food. Given you have no children then there is no financial obligations there to worry about.

You seem to have found advice suggesting changing the locks is a bad move, and maybe it's different in Scotland, but I really don't see how it could be construed as such, again providing you aren't forcing her out onto the street as a result. Personally it's a risk I would be willing to take, because the alternative - as I said before - is she might return to the property when you are away, potentially take items which are not hers, and could even change the locks on you! I would not take that risk.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
Andyk - 05 March, 2018 08:39AM
If your wife obtained her passport y rituel of being married to you and you are divorcing her, you should let the Home Office know about the situation.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
shambolic - 09 March, 2018 08:20AM
Thank you for your responses @ williapp that sounds logical, it's just when one reads online, in theory she could come to the house at any time while the husband is at work, he returns to a surprise and she asks the husband to be thrown out because he will have done xyz to her. This is the major stress and maybe unwarranted anxiety, but it seems to be the logical option. If you were a spouse desperate to stay and perhaps you've made an error in leaving to stay with family, she can come back and call the police as an ambush tactic. We've spoken to criminal and family lawyers and between them they refer to each other (decent law firms mind you).

Family law firm said if she turns up and locks are changed, then she can ask the police to let her in.
Criminal lawyer said check with family lawyer, and if you are at any point accused of anything do not say anything and refer to lawyer.

I guess if she approaches a lawyer and they start communications with our family lawyer then it means things are progressing. The prospect of 'vengeance' is strong with this one. Ironically the emotional and physical abuse has come from her side throughout the relationship as the husband has wanted to divorce her for many months and her family intervened.

@Andyk, I saw an article about telling the home office but will that give her any headache, or just more ammunition as the victim 'look my husband locked me out of the house and tried to get me deported, he is abusive and this is emotional/psychological domestic abuse'

thanks again for the food for thought. Will definitely have more questions for the lawyers
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
davidterry - 09 March, 2018 11:24AM
And may I ask what this actually has to do with the original poster?
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
Willapp - 09 March, 2018 01:37PM
shambolic Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Family law firm said if she turns up and locks are
> changed, then she can ask the police to let her
> in.
> Criminal lawyer said check with family lawyer, and
> if you are at any point accused of anything do not
> say anything and refer to lawyer.

I would be very surprised if the police would do this. Generally they don't get involved in domestic disputes and they aren't going to break the door down to give her access if you aren't there. If you are there, they would probably question you but I would imagine telling them that it is your property and she left voluntarily for X period so you have changed the locks, they will just walk away and tell you to deal with it via solicitors. I.e. she isn't going to get back into the house without your permission.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
handyian - 21 March, 2018 04:17PM
If your house keys were labelled with your address ,and then were mislaid , lost or stolen, you would definitely have to change the locks to avoid being burgled.
Re: Changing locks on a property? single name, owned pre-marriage
BlueSky - 21 March, 2018 09:05PM
I can say the following based on my own experience.

After separation, my wife moved in with her bf.
I rented a place for myself and our two young children, so tenancy was in my name only.
After ex came back and wanted to stay close to the children, I (being stupid enough) let her move in.
At that time we were in the middle of the custody proceedings.
Within two weeks the police was called twice, and they asked me if I want her to move out, so they could make her leave straight away.
This was contrary to what my family lawyer said (she was sacked shortly thereafter).

About a month later, the ex and I had another argument, and when she returned home in the evening, I refused to let her in.
A bit later, I texted her that she can come back.
However, in the meantime she called the police.
The officers offered again to make her leave. As I said that she can stay for the night (and has to leave tomorrow), they were relieved that they don't have to deal with it late in the evening.

A word of warning!!!
A few hours after the police left, the ex ran out naked onto the street and called 999, saying that I have violently raped her.
I was arrested.

Conclusion.
In my opinion, it's better to change the locks.
Even if it turns out that this is illegal, the consequences will be much milder.
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