Every year, around 76,000 couples file for divorce in Texas. If you think you might be adding to this statistic soon, you may be trying to figure out what to do with your house. After all, the marital home is typically considered community property in Texas, which means you both have a right to it. So if you’re thinking about changing the locks during your separation in Texas, you might want to reconsider.

Here’s what you need to know when it comes to your house and your rights in a divorce in Texas.

What Happens When You Change the Locks on Your House in Texas?

If your spouse moved out, “Can I change the locks?” might be your first question. Changing the locks during separation in Texas is not recommended. After all, unless you get a court order that says your spouse cannot come into the home, you cannot keep him or her out.

So technically, you can change the locks, but your spouse is within his or her rights to break into the home. Your first instinct may be to call the police if this occurs, but you’ll find that when they show up, they can’t do anything. After all, the house is also your spouse’s until the court says otherwise. Therefore, if you do end up changing the locks during separation in Texas, be prepared for the possibility of your spouse breaking in.

When Can You Keep Your Spouse from Entering the Home?

There are some instances in which you’re within your rights to keep your spouse out of the home. However, you’ll need to use legal resources to get started. For example, if your spouse has physically abused or threatened you or your children, you can seek a protective order that states he or she cannot come near you for a specified period. This means your spouse has to stay away from your home.

Another way to keep your spouse out of the house during separation is to seek temporary Exclusive Possession of the House, meaning you can petition the court to give you exclusive possession of your home after your spouse moved out. There’s no guarantee you’ll get it, but working with a property division attorney in Houston to show the court that you and your spouse cannot live together may help.

Of course, if you and your spouse are on speaking terms, it may be easier to talk to him or her and come to an agreement regarding the house. If you cannot talk to your spouse alone without creating further problems, but you’re interested in compromise, you can consider setting up a meeting with your family law attorney, your spouse, and his or her lawyer to find an agreement together.

Why Don’t People Want to Move Out After Divorce?

Staying in the house does not give you an advantage when it comes to dividing up the marital property, as it belongs to both of you no matter what your living arrangements are after divorce. However, if you have children and are fighting for custody, slight preference may be given to the parent who remains in the house with them during the divorce in Texas because it shows the parent can retain some stability for the children.

For this reason, it’s common for divorcing parents to both try to stay in the house, which may drive some people to change the locks on the house during divorce in Texas. If you’re dealing with this issue and have questions about your rights in a divorce in Texas, contact The Moffett Law Firm for help today.