Can I change the locks?

We are regularly asked by clients when they separate, whether they can change the locks once their ex has moved out. The answer is dependant upon the circumstances but there are not many circumstances where a partner can be forced to leave their home.

If the property is in joint names with your ex, or you are married, then you are both entitled to enter the property. If this is the case then you should not change the locks. If you do then your ex will be entitled to force entry to the property or hire a locksmith to let them in and then change the locks.

If the property is in your sole name then technically you have a right to change the locks to your property. Your ex could apply to the court for an ‘occupation order’ in order to regain access. Whether they are successful would be dependent on many factors, and will be different in each case.

If you are feeling threatened or have been subject to domestic abuse by your partner/ex-partner then other than speaking with the police it may be possible to legally exclude the other person by obtaining an occupation order in your favour. The order can set out who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.

If you would like advice on the matters set out here please contact the Family Team on 1243790532 or email