What do you do when your ex won’t return your things? They’ve probably returned the big items that they’ve been ordered to, such as your car. But what about the smaller items? You may have left some clothes, jewelry, items of sentimental value, or small items that your spouse would never use. Your spouse may claim that they no longer have the items. Or, your spouse may claim that you took the items. It’s always frustrating to see one party hoarding, or selling, the other party’s belongings out of spite. Unfortunately, this is a situation that we frequently see during the divorce process. If your spouse has held onto your items or sold them, you may have options in recovering them.
Start Gathering Your Things
If you believe that you’re on your way to divorce, you should probably start thinking about removing your property from the residence. When it comes to divorce, you may not know at what point you’ll no longer have access to the residence. It’s important that you get the items you’d like to keep before you leave the house. If you don’t, and your spouse isn’t willing to give the items back, it may be difficult to get them back. The most important things to remove from the house are items that have sentimental value such as pictures, heirlooms, christmas decorations, or ornaments. You may need to store them in a safe location that your spouse does not have access to. If you cannot remove the items from your home, make sure to keep a list of things that are still in the home along with pictures of them. Keep all documentation such as titles, certificates of ownership, or certificates of authenticity.
Make a List of Things Your Spouse Still Has
If you’ve already left the house, and your spouse is refusing to return your belongings, start making a list of the items you want your ex to return. Make sure this list also includes where the item is, what kind of condition it’s in, and if possible a picture of the item. In most cases, courts aren’t interested in combing through every piece of property in an estate during a trial. Since the court is more likely to award monetary relief, you need to be able to show the value of the property. This gets tricky with items that have sentimental value but are financially insignificant. The court will not compensate you for losses based on sentimental value. Do not attempt to settle the score by excessively taking your spouse to court for small items. People who take their spouse to court excessively may be ordered to pay their spouse’s attorney’s fees.
When Your Spouse Doesn’t Know Where the Item Is
It’s not uncommon for people to claim that they don’t have their spouse’s belongings, or they don’t know where their spouse’s belongings are. If your spouse is claiming this, your options for recovery may be limited if the item only has sentimental value. As previously mentioned, the courts are more likely to offer monetary relief than to recover your item—especially if your spouse is claiming that they don’t know where the item is. Courts are going to be more interested in items that carry a significant monetary value. For the most part, courts will not award monetary relief in place of an item with only sentimental value as that may be too difficult to ascertain.
Ask Nicely, Preferably in Writing
The best way to increase your chances of getting your items back is to start by asking nicely. Though your spouse may be looking to get revenge during the divorce process, they may not be willing to spend hundreds of dollars doing so. If your spouse is willing to return your items without legal intervention, this will save you both time and money. If you feel unsafe retrieving the items, you can either meet in a public place, or have someone else pick the items up for you. Once you receive the items, inventory the property and make sure it’s in the condition you left it in. Your spouse could be responsible for any damage that has occurred. If you have some of your spouse’s items, make sure you return everything that belongs to your spouse or that your spouse has been awarded.
When You Need Help Getting Your Items Back
If you’re going through a divorce, and you’re having a hard time recovering your items from your spouse, an attorney may be able to help. Having someone to advocate for you is an important part of protecting your rights. Divorce can be one of the most difficult events a person faces. However, having sound legal advice can help you mitigate your losses and come out of the divorce with the best case scenario. At CoilLaw, we make setting up an initial consultation easy. If you’re ready to file for divorce, contact CoilLaw today.