When Your Marriage Is Over but Your Husband Won’t Leave (Advice From a Lawyer)

When a marriage ends, it’s normal for both parties to move on with their lives, but sometimes, one party may refuse to leave the family home, causing distress and complications. 

In this article, we’ll provide advice from a lawyer on what to do when your marriage is over but your husband won’t leave.

Who Has The Legal Right to Stay in The Family Home During a Divorce? 

 In most cases, both parties in a marriage have an equal right to occupy the family home. This means that even if your husband refuses to leave, you cannot force him to do so without a court order. 

How to Legally Remove a Husband Who Won’t Leave The Home During a Divorce?

1. Ask Him to Leave

The simplest and most direct way to handle this situation is to ask your husband to leave. Be firm and assertive, but avoid being confrontational.

Explain why you want him to leave, and give him a reasonable timeframe. Remember to keep the conversation civil and avoid name-calling or blaming.

To ensure a smooth separation, it is essential to discuss and agree upon who will bear the financial responsibilities of the home, such as the mortgage, insurance, utilities, and other carrying costs. 

Even if you and your spouse do not share the exact timeline for the separation, it is crucial to clearly understand the financial details and ensure they are sustainable for a longer period than anticipated.

2. Get a Restraining Order

If your husband refuses to leave, you may need to consider getting a restraining order. 

restraining order, also known as a protective order, is a legal document prohibiting someone from contacting or coming near another person. It can be used to protect victims of domestic violence or harassment. 

In most cases, a restraining order will include an order for the restrained person to leave the home shared with the victim.

Generally, a restraining order will only be granted if there is evidence of domestic violence, physical abuse, or threats of harm. 

Additional Information on Restraining Orders Can Be Found Here:

3. File For Divorce and Ask The Court To Grant You Possession of the House During the Divorce

You may need to file for divorce or separation if you and your husband cannot resolve the situation. Often during a divorce, one spouse will request an order from a judge asking the other spouse to be removed from the house. 

This request is frequently made if there is heated argumentation between the parties or significant tension that may spill over in front of the kids. 

These concerns will be addressed during the hearing, and the judge will decide if your spouse must leave the family home. If the court rules in your favor, your spouse must leave the family home.

4. Call The Police

If your husband is aggressive or threatening, it’s crucial to call the police. This is especially important if you feel your safety is at risk. Explain the situation to the police, and they will take the necessary steps to remove your husband from the property.

5. Mediation

You may want to consider mediation if you and your husband are on relatively good terms. A mediator can help you devise a plan to resolve the situation without going to court. This can be a more cost-effective and less time-consuming option.

6. Change the Locks (Be careful with this!)

You can change the locks if your husband refuses to leave and has no legal right to the property. 

However, before you do so, make sure you understand your legal rights and obligations. If your family home is titled in both of your names, you cannot change the locks without a court order.  

7. Offer Financial Incentives

Consider offering financial incentives if your husband is reluctant to leave because he has nowhere else to go. For example, you could offer to pay for a hotel or help with the deposit on a new apartment. Be clear about what you’re willing to do, and ensure your husband understands these are one-time offers.


Q. Can I get a restraining order if my husband hasn’t been violent?

Yes, you can get a restraining order if you feel threatened or unsafe in any way. You don’t have to wait for your husband to be violent before seeking a restraining order.

If there has been no violence or threats of violence, you will not be able to get a restraining order.

Q. How long does it take to get a restraining order?

The time to get a restraining order varies depending on where you live. However, most courts can issue a temporary restraining order the same day you file.

Q. Do I have to move out if my spouse asks me to? 

If your name is on the lease or deed, you do not have to leave your home. Your spouse cannot force you to move out just by telling you to do so. 

Both parties have the right to stay in the house unless a court order states otherwise, which usually only happens in domestic violence cases or during the context of a divorce.

In a divorce, a temporary orders hearing must be held to get a court order for the exclusive use of the home. If you and your spouse cannot agree on who should stay in the house during the divorce, the judge will decide for you.

Q. My spouse moved out of the house. Can I change the locks? 

Yes, you can legally change the locks if your spouse moves out. 

While it may be legally permissible to change the locks on a property, it is important to remember that if both of your names are on the deed or lease, you and your spouse have equal rights to be in the home or apartment. 

If your spouse wishes to regain access to the property, they may hire a locksmith to pick the lock and re-enter the premises. 

Therefore, changing the locks may only provide a short-term solution if your spouse is determined to regain entry. 


Dealing with a husband who refuses to leave can be a frustrating and stressful experience. However, several options are available, ranging from asking him to leave to seeking legal help. 

The key is staying calm and assertive and prioritizing your safety and well-being. Remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for support and guidance.

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Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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