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Attorney & Mediator
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Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney & Certified Mediator
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My husband appears to have abandoned our family. He ...

Resolved Question:

My husband appears to have abandoned our family. He has not slept in our home since September but has been sneaking into the house when we are not home and taking items out of the house. I also believe he has changed his address, although I cannot prove that just yet. Can I legally change the locks to protect my property? I live in Ohio.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
1) Who is the owner of the home?

2) If there are children in your family, has he not made any type of contact or provided for them (money or clothes) or written emails, sent letter etc...

3) Is there any basis why he might have left the family home? Has there ever been any domestic violence or concern for your safety.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to LawNinvest's Post: We own the home jointly.

There are children. He has been sending part of of his paycheck to our joint bank account. He usually takes most of that money back out again. He did come to my daughters' birthdays, once at Thanksgiving, and once at Christmas. I have not heard from him since then.

There has been no violence. I believe he is living with another woman.
Expert:  Attorney & Mediator replied 9 years ago.
Thank you for your response to my questions.

In Ohio abandonment requires a showing that the husband and wife have, without interruption for one year, lived separate and apart without cohabitation. So legally he does not yet meet the definition of abandonment.

Although he no longer lives at the family home, because he is on title he has the right to access the property and you may be in legal trouble if you change the locks and deny him entry. The only way to deny him entry would be to file for a restraining order if there was domestic violence or a fear for safety of yourself and the children. Since there has been no such history, you won't qualify for the restraining order.

Another way to deny him access to the family home would be by asking the court in a petition for divorce or separation that he be denied access to the property, unfortunately for a non-fault petition it would require the showing of the one year separation.

Only if he agrees to you changing the lock in writing will you be able to lock him out otherwise he has rights to enter the property he owns with you.

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