Can I Demand My Stuff Back?

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Can I Demand My Stuff Back?

My partner and I are unmarried in Wisconsin but have lived together nine years. When I told him I wanted to split up, he started to ‘move out’ by taking several items that belonged to me personally computer, digital camera, gift certificates, even the vacuum cleaner he’d bought me for Mother’s Day. He’s refused repeatedly to give these items back and has them stashed at various of his friends houses. He claims that these things are community property due to us having lived together for nine years. The local PD was indifferent when I asked for help recovering my items.

What are my rights? I have no receipts for the items and only my own word that they belong to me personally and are not community property.

Asked on February 25, 2019 under Business Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There is no "community property" for cohabitating without being married. Living together without being married conveys no rights to any belongings or assets. Anything that is yours--was bought by you or gifted to you--is still yours and you can sue him for its value or for its return. In court, you'll have to convince the judge that it is more likely than not (by a preponderance of the evidence) that you own these items: you can do that by your testimony if you have no documentary evidence, and the court can find for you if you are credible enough. Suing in small claims court, as your own attorney ("pro se") is a good option.


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