Can I throw the "bum" out? - That was a favorite catchall for Ann Landers.  Having been syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, there's no doubt she was a great entertainer, but you can bet she wasn't a lawyer.

The answer is no.  Be they a husband or wife, you can ask a spouse to leave, but you can't physically remove them, or exclude them by changing the locks or packing their bags and leaving them on the front step.  If a married couple shared a home, then both have a right to be there.

Absent violence for which you should call the police, or other behavior justifying a court issuing a restraining order, if you can't tolerate your spouse any longer, then you must be the one to leave.  You can't throw him or her out.

If you've filed a case in court, you or your lawyer may ask for exclusive possession of certain marital property pending the outcome of the suit.  Homes and cars are the property most frequently subject to a court's temporary orders.

Can I take money out of the bank? - Here's the best answer.  If you weren't thinking about a divorce, would you have worried about such a question?  Until you actually file for dissolution of marriage, you are no different than any other married couple. So stop second-guessing every move you want to make.  Do what comes naturally so to speak.  At least so long as you're not doing it strictly for revenge.

So yes, it's perfectly okay for you to open a new bank account, get a credit card in your name only, rent an apartment.  If you leave the house, take your jewelry and keepsakes with you.  Don't completely empty the bank account but sure take half for yourself after you've paid the bills. Conduct business as usual.  Do not cancel everything, shut off utilities, remove a spouse from insurance.  Don't leave your spouse without a way of contacting you or your children.  The golden rule applies, do unto your spouse how you would want them to do unto you.

However, if you have children, the stakes are higher. Without your spouse's permission, leaving with the kids and moving in with your mother (or father or friends or your own apartment) is a risky business.  Missouri law strictly prohibits the taking of children from a person with whom they have been primarily residing the previous 60 days.  While that only applies when the court's jurisdiction is invoked, a fast acting spouse can potentially get custody back using that law, leaving the spouse in possession of the house and temporary custody of the children.  Big advantages in a custody dispute.  Therefore, getting your spouse's permission is important.

If your spouse has left with the children and you hope to win future custody, then you must act quickly.  Each day that goes by where the children live exclusively with the other parent makes winning ultimate custody less likely.  You need to file suit immediately.

All this advice changes once the case has been filed. If the circuit court's jurisdiction has been invoked, then absent express written agreement from your spouse, then you should do absolutely nothing extraordinary without the court's permission.

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