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Family Law

What happens when my spouse/partner refuses to move out?

Refusing to move out

What happens to?
The most commonly asked questions from couples separating or divorcing

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Living in the same property after a relationship has broken down can be very difficult and in some situations not safe.

What is the best course of action to take?

It is ideally sensible and practical if both parties can agree who will remain in the property on separation.

We can help negotiate on your behalf and help you make these arrangements with your spouse.

Alternatively, you may find attending mediation with your spouse could help with matters when it comes to living arrangements and access to the family home.

What if an agreement cannot be reached?

If you spouse refuses to leave the family home, they cannot be forced to leave the family home unless there is a risk of domestic violence occurring to you or your children if they were to continue living in the family home.

If living in the same property is not safe for you or your children, first be clear if you feel unsafe due to the behaviour of your spouse in the property call the Police as they will assist. The Police are well trained to work with families in this very situation and will usually respond immediately. They will either make an arrest or if the situation on their assessment can be managed in another way they will persuade your spouse to stay somewhere else.

If you feel that you or your children thereafter are still at risk of harm from your spouse, it may be possible to apply to the Court to obtain an Occupation Order to exclude your spouse from the property and prevent them from living at the property and accessing it.

Can I change the locks on the family home?

If you jointly own a property with your spouse, you will both legally be allowed to enter and occupy the property.

You will therefore not be allowed to change the locks on the property and if you did so, your spouse  can use ‘reasonable force’ to re-enter the property.

If you solely own a property you may have the right to change the locks on the property if they have moved out of the property.

Your spouse would then need to make an application to the Court and seeks a Judge’s approval to return to the property.

We would recommend that you seek legal advice before attempting to have the locks changed on your property.


If you would like further advice on this topic or any other family matters then please get in touch with our specialist and friendly Family Law team on 0191 2328451 or if you prefer, via email

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