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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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My wife told me she wants a divorce just tuesday and she has

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My wife told me she wants a divorce just tuesday and she has an apartment to move into next wednesday and has filed the papers with the courts. can I change the locks even though we are both on the lease? My proptery manager said to go ahead and do so. Also what are my rights to my 2 children if she takes them with about seeing them or having them with me? She is the one that wants this and has made all these decisions this as I do not. I live in arizona

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

To answer directly, you personally cannot change the locks until she formally abandons the premises, takes her things, and leaves. That is because she has as much right to be on the premises as you do, you can only take sole control of the premises once she has demonstrated intent to to return (which requires her to leave first). If you change the locks first, she could claim that you violated her rights to the premises, and she could sue you for damages (or use this against you in courts). Your property manager would not be the one who could be sued, so he has less of a right here than she would.

As for your children, this is a bit more complicated. Legally the parents have exactly co-equal rights. Both have the right and the ability to make decisions but because rights are co-equal, neither parent compel or force the other parent to give up the children or grant visitation. That means that if she ends up blocking you from seeing your children, your only legitimate recourse would be to go to court and seek emergency sole custody or visitation rights because otherwise she can withhold them from you without violating the law.

Hope that helps.

Dimitry K., Esq. and 4 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So on the locks what if she is already out but is moving her big stuff Wednesday does this matter?


On the kids does the same action apply to myself as the father? For example I picked them up from daycare and have them as we speak. Can she demand them and take them from our home or call the police on me and get me in trouble?


Thank you for your follow-up. In terms of the locks, if you can show that she intended to move (she took her personal items such as toiletries or her tooth brush), and she took her clothes but left the larger items, it can be argued that she constructively moved out. Then you could justify changing the locks, but it would be wiser to wait until she moves out completely.

As for the kids, the same rights apply to you. If you want to withhold the kids from her and not give them to her, then you could do so as well. Then she would need to obtain an emergency order against you to obtain access or to take the kids from you. She can demand them but without a court order she has nothing. Furthermore, you aren't abducting the children so this isn't a criminal issue and the police would not help her.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

one last question on her moving out and changing the locks. Is she liable for any of the costs that she just up and left and we signed a 18 month lease just 3 weeks ago that both of us are on and responsible for? Thank you for your time.


Thank you for your follow-up. Regardless of whether or not she is on premises, if she is on the lease she remains liable to the landlord for the rents. In other words if you both signed, you both remains 'jointly and separately liable'. To make her laible to you for your share, you would need to go to court and request that the courts make her honor this agreement even if she no longer resides there.

Good luck and hope that clarifies.