How Can I Get My Personal Property Back from My Ex?

Our personal possessions can mean a lot to us, especially if they were acquired over the course of many years, if they were purchased after a lot of hard work, or if they have sentimental value. In a divorce case, there are usually a lot of issues that the Court considers more important, such as making sure both parties are able to support themselves financially, that the minor children are financially and emotionally supported, that there is a parenting schedule, and ultimately that there is a resolution to the case so that the parties are either divorced or move on with their lives.


In the midst of this chaos, we often leave property issues to the end since judges do not like to deal with property issues. Some judges have flipped coins to decide who gets what, others force the parties to sell the property and split the proceeds. Most judges simply do not want to deal with it and strong arm the parties into keeping whatever property is in their possession. Otherwise, the parties would be spending more money than it would take them to purchase new clothes, furniture, or other possessions. The reality is that unless the party took their possessions with them when they moved out, a court is very unlikely to facilitate the return of your property. In addition, your ex could simply say that he or she could not find it, its lost, it broke, and there would be no way to force the return of property that the other party alleges does not exist.


Most attorneys will ask both parties to make lists of property they want returned and will facilitate an exchange date. This is likely the last opportunity for you to retrieve any other items that you did not take with you initially. You could also identify items that you saw but your ex claimed you could not take with you. If the item is valuable, it could be added to a Marital Balance Sheet to be equitably divided. Otherwise, at the rate of $300-$400 per hour for your attorney, it is advisable that you analyze the importance and value of the items left behind with a focus on the bigger picture — can this item be replaced? Is it worth delaying my divorce or increasing my attorneys fees for the return of this item? In the end, you will have to make a benefit/cost analysis on the return of personal property versus the continuation of an emotionally-charged and expensive divorce process.

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