Should I change the locks ?

Lost in France


My wife left home a month ago and is living in a nearby town. My sons (16 and 14) live with me in the family home. She is bringing them home from school most days and still has a lot of her possessions in the house.

Due to circumstances, I do not feel I can trust her in the house on her own and it is not fair to ask the boys to 'keep an eye on Mummy' if I'm not there.

Am I being unreasonable/breaking the law if I change the locks and ask her to remove her belongings? I've asked her to do this and offered to help using my van, but she snaps back that it is still half her house and she can come and go as she pleases and keep what she wants there.

Anyone any experience of this?

Any help gratefully received.


Posted on: June 20, 2010 - 8:22am
Parenting specialist

Hello Paul,  I am sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time at the moment feeling you have not got privacy in your home.

The question of the lock-changing is a tricky one. Obviously I do not know about French law, I can only tell you what happens over here. If her name is still on the deeds/tenancy then technically speaking she is still the joint owner/tenant. However, as she has chosen to live elsewhere then it is not her home and common courtesy would indicate that she should ask you before going in. On a practical basis, if you are not there at the time, which is what I think you are saying, could you see the boys preventing her coming in anyway, even if you did change the locks?

However, you do need legal advice on this one.

Happy Father's Day, anyway!!!!

Posted on: June 20, 2010 - 9:48am

hello Paul,

I know sadsy would comment on this if he see's it as he had this experience last year. His ex left the house, but took children with her & he did get locks changed. It is a bit different though as yours are teenagers & as Louise just said they are maybe going to let her in anyway? however if you got locks changed at least it would stop her coming in any other time, which she should not be doing as she does not live there any more, her choice, & you are intitled to your privacy!


Posted on: June 20, 2010 - 11:51am

Hello Paul,
it is a legal question really. To which I don't know the answer.

My ex was removing my possessions too when she returned! So, I felt I had little choice but to change locks.

For a while I kept a little pebble against the front door so that I would know if someone had been in. I didn't want her and scumbag lover from Romford sexing themselves up in my bed while I was emotionally broken and paying for everything.

You can always say you lost your keys in cafe which meant the house was unsecure and so needed new barrels. Just don't tell her. Sounds like your ex would pursue you though and I suspect your children would let her in anyhow.

As co-owner, and as there is risk of malicious theft/damage from her, it seems fair and reasonable that her visits are by mutual consent. You need to use a solicitor. Eventually this will become a larger issue as any remaining ties of decency between you reduce to nothing. She will want to realise "her" capital in the property, if it is in positive equity. Your wellbeing will count for nothing and sale of the house may be forced by her. If the children are living with you she will have much more trouble with this as courts favour the children's needs, always.

Resist letting the children move in with her. You will never get them back and she may move a long way away, you will miss out on your children growing up.

My situation is that my ex partner (unmarried) I credited with co ownership and co mortgagee. She is forcing sale at the moment and is likely to succeed, as the original purpose of the purchase as a family home no longer exists and she claims it is preventing housing benefit (untrue). She took the children. The house is in negative equity so will only release debt. I will never put a unpaying partner on as 100% owner again. Only by % financial contribution. I will leave sentiment well out of it should I ever be allowed to buy a house again. Which is unlikely.

I am expecting things to get more acrimonious between you. A trip to solicitors is needed I think. The biggest safeguard you have is the children in residence with you and her electing to leave.

Sorry not been much help. Some very bumpy times ahead.

I got to go now. Not much hope for me, but lets hope you find a way as your situation differs.

Hug sy

Posted on: June 20, 2010 - 12:36pm
Parenting specialist

Hello sadsy,

Thanks for your input on this thread.

I just wanted to respond to something you mentioned, that you would never have a non-paying partner as a co-owner. I thought you, or other people might be interested in this information. Legally, if the house is in one person's name and another adult lives there, that adult can lodge an "interest" in the property at the Land Registry. The solution is that if you co-habit in the future, in a bought house, get you and partner designated as "tenants in common" rather than co-owners then get a solicitor to draw up a trust deed which specifies what percentage each party "owns". This can reflect the relative contributions, even if it is 95%/5%. Whilst I understand this is not set in stone as far as courts are concerned, it is at least a starting point if the relationship breaks down.

It sounds, Lost in France, as if the general consenus is that you do need some legal advie on this point about changing the locks.

Posted on: June 20, 2010 - 1:17pm
Parenting specialist

Hi Lost in France

You mentioned in another post previously that you were going to visit a solicitor, have you been yet?

What have found out?

I don't know any of the legalities here, but I guess as Louise said, the boys could let her in and you don't want to put them in a difficult position.

I did wonder whether you could pack up her belongings and deliver them to her?  (Even if she has said she doesnt want that) Or perhaps arrange a time when the boys are out so you can go through the house together and divide things up? Then there wouldn't be any need for her to come back when you are not there.

Do you think she is wanting to keep things there, just so she still has a foot in the door, or does she not have the room where she is?

Posted on: June 21, 2010 - 4:46pm
Lost in France

Hi all and thanks.

I'm speaking to a UK solicitor who specialises in divorce for expats tomorrow and I'm hoping to get details on a good French avocat as well.

I've not changed the locks, but I have rigged them so that she can't get in when I'm not here.

She's staying at a friends house and there is room for her belongings. I did tell her I wanted her stuff out by the end of next week and she went into a rant saying it was still half her house.

I hope I can get some positive news tomorrow.

I feel very stressed at the moment. I think she will say that she wants to care for one of the boys. The thought of 'picking' which one she wants or making the boys choose who they want to live with disgusts me.

I've tried very hard not to be negative about the boy's Mum in front of them. In fact I've told them to tell me if I start moaning about her. But tonight they are both very upset. They saw her for the first time in 4 or 5 days and both said she wasn't interested in anything they had to say and only wanted to talk about her artwork. It's horrible seeing them with that 'rejected' look that I had at the start of all this.

They put a couple of lovely messages on my Facebook wall, which gave me a big lift yesterday.

Thanks again



Posted on: June 21, 2010 - 11:15pm

What is it with wanting to split siblings up??

I'm glad they've left you some good messages on FB - even though I'm not a huge fan of the site!

Glad you got advice from a solicitor, and good that there's a deadline to meet.  If you give a deadline, aren't you then able to take the belongings out of your home?

Its sad that even when choices are made by a party that the party still feels obliged to cause tidal waves instead of trotting along their chosen path.


Posted on: June 21, 2010 - 11:22pm
Parenting specialist

Hi Lost in France

I hope the meeting went well with your solicitor, I hope you are clearer on your rights as resident parent.  Please let us know....

It is not surprising that you are feeling stressed at the moment, it is normal and understandable to try and give yourself a break if ossible.  Do you play any sports? If not, what about going for a long walk?  Doing anything active can be sooo good for us.

Its great to hear that the boys are being supportive of you, but such a shame that they feel their mum is lacking interest in them.

Tell me againn what a French avocat is, is it similar to a solicitor?

Posted on: June 22, 2010 - 4:25pm
Lost in France

The solicitor meeting was a non starter. We've been living too long in France to get a UK divorce (as with most things nowadays, divorce is cheaper in the UK!)

I've tried to get recommendations for a good French avocat (bit of a cross between a solicitor and a lawyer I think), but no luck so far. Don't know which way to turn at the moment. Got to find good legal advice.

I'm hopefully taking the boys canoeing tomorrow. As long as the rivers have lowered and slowed a bit. It's my Birthday treat.

I spent most of this evening texting my wife to try and make peace between the boys and her. Finally arranged for my youngest to sleep over at hers for a night. At the end I got a lecture on how tough things are for her! Don't know why I bothered!




Posted on: June 22, 2010 - 9:46pm

I know it's late, I do all my worst posts at this time.

But, are you sure your ex is mentally OK? Is this artwork thing just a convenient smokescreen for plain old infidelity? If not, she sounds very immature, choosing a path which causes pain to all around her and then looking for you to financially subsidise and emotionally empathise with her selfishness.

Can you link a picture of her artwork? It will tell me a great deal (doing my Hannibal Lector impersonation, having my fava beans now).

manly hug,


(my children were taken and I have to leave the light on in their empty room - think I have cracked and not noticed!)

Posted on: June 23, 2010 - 2:29am
Lost in France


My wife suffered badly with Post Natal Depression after our second son was born. She has been on and off anti d's ever since (14 years). Trouble is, she would stop and start them without telling anyone. So her moods were all over the place and as she didn't inform me or the Doc's she didn't always get the support she needed until she'd sunk so low it was obvious what she'd done. She now says that she was only on anti d's because of her life with me (although she tell me she is still taking them at the moment).

Sadly, the words immature and selfish have been used a lot lately.

Her artwork is very good, but not as good as she thinks it is. She believes she can earn a living from it, but I'm not so sure. Not sure how I'd link a pic of her artwork. I built her a couple of websites, but I'd rather not link to them.





Posted on: June 23, 2010 - 12:20pm

That's fine about the linking Paul,
not to worry.

She does sound very unbalanced from info you have given. Stop/starting meds would really affect her moods. Sounds like she was very hard to live with.

I'm on anti-D's at the moment, but I don't feel ashamed as so much has happened this year, besides partner's affair and abduction of children.

The words that kept cropping up about my ex were callous/selfish.
I just remember her as 'the woman that could never say thank you'.

Hope you can enjoy the sun today. Will your boys be with you for summer break soon? Do you have any plans?


Posted on: June 23, 2010 - 2:11pm
Parenting specialist

I am sorry to hear that the meeting with the solicitor didn't go too well.  I have been looking around the internet trying to find some support for you, please have a look at the links below and feel free to disregard any or all.  I am sure you have probably seen these, but I hoped that perhaps it would give you a little more information.

I did come across a few forums talking about expats and divorce and wondered if you would join an expats in France one?

ANYWAY you mentioned canoeing, I love it and am a bit envious, did you go? Did you have fun? Do you own the canoes or do you rent them?

You mentioned that you spent a while texting your ex to try and make peace between her and the boys.  You bothered because you don't want to see your boys unhappy.  Keep in mind though that you are not responsible for her relationship with them.  We want the best for our children, but as a friend once said to me 'Its none of your business now'

It must have been tough on both of you if she has suffered PND and then ongoing depression, does she continue to see the doctors?

I think it is best that you don't link to her work.  We are not here to judge other people, just to look after each other! :)

Posted on: June 23, 2010 - 5:43pm
Lost in France

Hi Anna,

Thank you so much for taking the time to find those links. I'd already seen some, but there was some very good info on the others. I've tried to contact another lawyer through one of them. Fingers crossed. I've discovered that my ex has asked for legal aid, so it seems clear that she is going for blood. I've said on numerous occasions that it will be better for both of us if we can sort this out amicably.

The canoeing went great. We rent the canoes, but are thinking of buying some (if I have any money left after the divorce). We are lucky in that there are about 30 kayak centres within an hour or so of us, so it's something we will be doing again.

Thanks again



Posted on: June 27, 2010 - 5:21am

Hi Paul, glad you all thoroughly enjoyed the canoeing. Not been in your situation at all, and when I read how much others go through, it's really awful. Of course it would be best all round if things could work out amicably, but this very rarely happens does it? I'm sorry to hear that the boys didn't get much out of the visit with their Mum, only listening to her talk about the art etc. Are they ok now? I think it was really good of you to text her, you did it for your sons, not her, so don't give her text another thought.

I hope you have a good Sunday. Its absolutely boiling here, so another restless night, tossing and turning etc.

Take care



Posted on: June 27, 2010 - 8:17am
Parenting specialist

Hello Lost in France

I am sorry to hear that things have got so difficult, glad you are able to get out and about with the boys though; I am sure they appreciate their wonderful dad (well, just look at Facebook!)

I have posted some info on the other thread about teenagers and the cost of bringing them up, which I hope is helpful.

Do give us a weather report from the other side of the Channel!

Posted on: June 28, 2010 - 7:33am
Parenting specialist

Hi Lost in France, glad that there was something in one of those links, good luck getting through to the lawyer.

30 kayak centres close by? How fabulous!  I guess there is a lot of beautiful rivers nearby?  That could be so therapeutic for you getting out on the water over these next few months.

Have you had a good weekend? Did the boys see their mum?

Posted on: June 28, 2010 - 9:23am