Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I Think My Spouse is Selling My Things - What Can I Do to Stop It?

You notice one day that some of your jewelry is missing. A few days later, your coin collection is noticeably smaller. Thanks to the security cameras, you are confident that only you and your spouse have been inside your home. The two of you have been going through some difficult times lately, and now you find yourself wondering if you should contact a family law attorney.

What Are Your Options?

If someone other than your spouse came into your home and swiped your property, you could call the police and make an official statement. The person could be arrested and face criminal charges. But the rules are different if the person absconding with your things is your spouse. Your spouse has a right to be present in the home and use the objects contained therein. In the process of living in the marital home, the law expects that people will co-mingle many of their items. Married people share things like toasters, dishes, and many other items of personal property.

Sharing your worldly goods is a far cry from allowing another person to take and sell your things. When someone does this to their spouse, it is usually an indication of a serious problem, such as an impending divorce, addiction issues, or a financial crisis. You should never ignore it if your spouse is selling your property.

Before filing for divorce, there is very little you can do to stop your spouse from selling your things. Once you file for divorce, the courts will enter automatic orders that protect each party from many types of misconduct by the other party, including misappropriating assets. If your spouse sold some of your items before you filed for divorce, you can take steps in the divorce to ask the judge to set aside to you your fair share of the assets she sold without your consent.

Automatic Orders in Divorce Cases

Under New York law, when you file for divorce the court will enter automatic orders against both you and your spouse. These orders will remain in effect until the divorce is over, the court modifies the automatic orders, or the two of you reach a written agreement that changes the terms of the orders. If you violate the automatic orders while your divorce is pending, the court can hold you in contempt of court, with all the penalties that apply.

As long as the orders are in effect, you must get the written consent of the other party or an order of the court to sell, transfer, remove, or in any other way dispose of any of the separate or joint property. You are, of course, allowed to pay the customary and usual household expenses, utilize assets in the ordinary course of business, and pay your reasonable attorney's fees for the divorce without the need for written consent or a court order.

Bank accounts, personal property, investments, real estate, cars, and retirement accounts are some examples of the assets covered by automatic orders in divorce cases. In addition to being prohibited from disposing of assets, the automatic orders ban the parties from incurring unreasonable debts during the divorce. Also, the parties are not allowed to make changes to any existing medical, hospital, dental, life, automobile, homeowners, or renters insurance policies while the divorce is pending.

Divorce laws can be complex. To protect yourself, you should speak with a New York divorce lawyer in your area. Please contact us today to set up a free consultation to discuss your options. This is not something you want to tackle on your own.


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