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Changing the locks - was that the right thing to do?

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marlie2014 posted 4/11/2014 15:01 PM

So this week I was finally able to file for divorce. WS moved out in November, but I could not file because I was waiting for my migratory status in the country in which we live to be resolved. It should have been by February, but as often happens here, it dragged on and on and I needed a ton of extra and expensive documentation to be able to finally submit all my paperwork to the naturalization authorities.

Meanwhile, I was not able to go NC with the WS because that naturalization app required his signature. He knew this and was milking the situation for all it was worth. I did not feel that it was unethical for me to apply based on marriage, as I met all the requirements and it did not make sense to divorce right before submitting the application. But it definitely added to my stress level when WS would come to the house and expect me to feed him, or continually ask for loans always with the veiled threat that if I didn't do what he wanted, he would refuse to sign the papers.

Because I was not a full-fledged citizen here, I had few rights to property or to much else until now, so I was really in a vulnerable position. WS exploited this thoroughly...until this week.

Now that I no longer have the fear that he 'might not sign,' I have filed for divorce. This surprised WS -- he acted like he couldn't believe I wanted to file "so soon." He also pouted and kept saying he was depressed and sad that I wanted to file 'so quickly.' However, he did sign the papers from my lawyer a few days ago and the divorce is going to proceed. Soon we will be appearing in court.

Here's my question: until this point, WS has had full access to the house, which was not legally mine (and still technically isn't, but it isn't 100% legally his, either...long story, but the divorce decree will say that the house will be mine). He often dropped by when I was not at home and raided the fridge, watched tv, did his laundry and even showered and shaved. Yesterday I went and changed the lock on the front door. (The back door is barred from the inside, so he wouldn't be able to get in without a battering ram)

Was that the right thing to do? It might make him angry, but I don't see what he can do at this point except maybe refuse to sign a final divorce decree or refuse to appear before the judge. I'm tired of having to bow to his demands and of putting up with his nonsense. I'm ready to go NC, but I'm kind of afraid at the same time.

Leia posted 4/11/2014 15:16 PM

Yes, Yes, and yes. It was the right thing to do. As someone who had in-house S--aka legal limbo like you--keeping your space to yourself is paramount. I've almost been in my new digs a week, and I can already tell a difference in the way I feel and my temperament. So, yes, keeping your space for yourself is ok. Also, I would contact my L about this and let her know what you have done. That way, if there is a backlash, it won't be on you. Best of luck and hugs to you.

marlie2014 posted 4/11/2014 16:00 PM

Thank you, I e-mailed my lawyer just now to ask if it could have any legal repercussions. He's handling not only the divorce but also getting the title of the house put in my name (only a certain kind of lawyer in this country can do that), so he'll know the answer.

I guess I was sort of afraid of backlash by the WS, but at the same time I'm sick of him taking advantage of me.

Skan posted 4/11/2014 17:01 PM

Well, if it turns out legally that you cannot change the locks, there is nothing to say that you cannot ADD a lock that only you have the key to! After all, you come home, there are signs that some unknown person has been in the house, and you're legitimately afraid for your safety.

dmari posted 4/11/2014 17:19 PM

For your safety and sanity, YES!! But if it turns out that you are not allowed to then I believe you discovered something wrong with the lock and had to change it and did not have a chance to mention it to WS yet. OR what skan stated ~ you have evidence that someone came in your home and you were afraid and changed the locks. Please let us know what house lawyer says.

Take2 posted 4/11/2014 17:31 PM

You are a woman living alone! You needed to feel secure! Should anyone ask

StrongAlone posted 4/11/2014 18:38 PM

Yes it was ok to change the locks if you feel unsafe or if he was overstepping his bounds, which he was, big time!
By the way, I changed the locks on my husband too because I felt unsafe. I literally couldn't imagine falling asleep knowing he had access to the house. What I did was probably not legal but he never pursued anything. I think the fact that you have been awarded the home then you had every right to change the locks. Hey maybe you lost your set of keys that had your name and address on it! You had no choice!

Amazonia posted 4/11/2014 20:15 PM

"I lost my key and had to get the lock reset. I'll go make a copy for you soon."

Soon never comes.

marlie2014 posted 4/12/2014 22:35 PM

Well, my lawyer actually e-mailed me back pretty quickly, which was surprising. And he said, "I understand how you feel, but it would not be wise to change the locks until the final judgment. You need him both to appear in court and sign the final decree."

So I when I got home I put back the old lock and sighed. The lawyer is right -- as we are doing a "voluntary" divorce which is much quicker and cheaper than me divorcing him for adultery, I have to have his full cooperation. WS keeps talking about wanting to leave town (translated: disappear) because of the shady work he's been involved in, and I need him to stick around long enough to make me legally free of him.

On the bright side, voluntary divorce usually takes 4-5 weeks.

On the dark side, I have to hope for the next several weeks that he doesn't decide to raid my refrigerator, or wash his clothes here, or steal money that he finds (yes, he's even done that) or show up because 'he wanted to see if I was ok.'

homewrecked2011 posted 4/12/2014 23:31 PM

Marlie,,, you will get thru this.

There will be a day soon when you can change the locks and feel safe again.

Amazonia posted 4/13/2014 06:28 AM

Can you add a lock to your bedroom door and keep files, money and other personal items in there?

burnedcanuckEMS posted 4/13/2014 08:22 AM

Amazonia's idea is great. Plus if you don't want him eating your food in your fridge get a chain and padlock and lock it up to! If nothing else he should get the message that he is crossing the line!

marlie2014 posted 4/14/2014 08:07 AM

Thank you, I had not thought of that! My bedroom door has a lock but I have never had the key. Let me see what I can figure out...

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