Is My Wife Allowed to Keep Items from Me that I’ve Had Long Before We were Married and are Sentimental to Me During our Divorce?

Is My Wife Allowed to Keep Items from Me that I’ve Had Long Before We were Married and are Sentimental to Me During our Divorce?


Question:

We are going through a pretty nasty divorce (she didn’t want a divorce but I did) and I have since moved out. There are things at the house such as an old baby blanket of mine, quilts my aunt made for me when I was a child , just very personal things that have no monetary value. I’ve requested via email to have these items given to me but she refuses to answer me regarding these requests. She just ignores the emails. Is there anything that can be done so I can have these items back before the divorce is final? She’s clearly keeping them to be petty and I feel that I have a right to have my personal belongings from the house.

Note: None of these items I speak of were given to me while we were married, all before we met.

Answer:

Under Massachusetts’ law, all items, however ever acquired and regardless of title, may be “assigned” to one party or the other. So, she could retain items that were yours. However, you should not sign any Separation Agreement that does not require her to give you these items within a defined period of time. If the case goes to trial, you would testify about the items and ask the judge to order her to turn them over to you. Pending the resolution of your case by agreement or trial, you may file a Motion to Remove Personal Property from the Marital Home. It should be supported by¬† an Affidavit about why you need them now, their importance and if they are in danger of not being preserved while in your wife’s care. If allowed, the Judge may order her to turn them over to you or allow you access to the marital home to retrieve the specific items.

This legal question was provided by Avvo and answered by Cynthia Hanley an experienced Mansfield, Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer.  This does not consent an attorney client relationship.