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Can she take marital assets without consent?

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24 Oct 07 #5188 by mike62
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OK, sep in Jan. Allegedly an 'amicable' split. STBX decided to take a rental house - got keys on Monday. She told me she was going to decorate kids bedrooms before moving in.

Get a call at office at 18:20 on Tues from her to tell me that she has 'taken some of her furniture'. So far, all we had agreed that she was taking our bed. Get home, she has taken most of kids bedroom furniture, suite, TV etc.

I tell her that she can't do this. Bear in mind that she wrote herself a cheque on the company account for £2000 last week, without my knowledge or consent. These items of furniture and the kids clothes are jointly owned matrimonial assets.

She tells me I can f*** off.
She locked me out of the marital bedroom in Feb this year and told me if I wanted anything from there, I had to ask and she would get it. So when she left last night, I picked the lock on the marital bedroom door and changed the lock. I also changed the lock on the family apartment in the hotel which we co-own. She returned later in the evening to get more 'of her stuff'. I told her she could only go in if she was accompanied by me. She threatened me with the police. No raised voices on my part, nor any violence or even threat of violence. I told her I would speak with my sol in the morninig.

She left again. Presumably to go to her new house. Before she left, I asked her if she had everything she needed for the night. She did. She returned yet again and declared that this was her home and that she was staying the night. GIven that she had taken her bed and I had locked the bedroom, I asked if that was to be in a hotel room. It was. I have since called the police to report the incident, in case she decided to fabricate something later.

What else can / should I do? Help?!

Mike

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24 Oct 07 #5189 by Monster
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Mike, I'm sure you already know that she has a legal right to be in the marital home etc. etc.

Looking from the outside, it seems to me that she is just trying to stamp her authority at your joint business and you showing her that your not going to give her what she wants (which is invariably everything) has made her that little bit tetchy to say the least. I’m sure that there are people on here that can advise you of what orders you can get to stop her from doing this and that and I’m very sure that a solicitor will charge you just as much for the same advice. My advice would be, if you have the money get some good advice from a solicitor, if not; batten down the hatches and ride the storm, she can do no more than get the Police whom will not want anything to do with it except to point out that she has legal access… you say come in then when she has gone just close the door and have a party… sorry to be flippant but it seems she had a hissy fit and you stood up to her and were that little bit cleverer and she didn’t expect it. My last piece of advice would be not to worry… Take care Monster…

Oh BTW see if you can cancel that cheque…. Now that will make her sit up and listen to what ever agreements were made prior to her leaving.. ;)

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24 Oct 07 #5198 by mike62
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Monster,
Many thanks for your reply. This is entirely unchartered waters for me, never been in anything like this situation before. Sol has not rung me back yet and frankly I am worried that I may have overstepped the mark. Your post gives me confidence that if nothing else, it will be seen as a holding tactic later.

Thanks for your advice, would welcome any more!

Mike

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24 Oct 07 #5230 by Fiona
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Umm, fights need to be chosen carefully. I'm not sure you have done yourself any great favours here either, but I wouldn't beat yourself up about it. You will need to get used to the idea STBX can do things without your knowledge or consent.

Personal possessions such as clothes or gifts belong to the person who they were intended for. It then has to be decided who owns household goods bought for joint use but generally, the partner with whom the children live will be expected to keep domestic goods and equipment so perhaps her taking what she did isn't really that unreasonable.

If the £2k is needed for family expenditure denying her access might be seen as financial abuse. On the other hand, if there is evidence she is syphoning off assets there is the possibility of freezing them so neither of you can touch them until the finances have been settled. Keep a record of everything and account for them in the settlement.

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25 Oct 07 #5239 by mike62
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Fiona,
Many thanks for your post. I absolutely take on board that she is her own person, and will make her own decisions from here on in. That is not in dispute. However, I have been asking her every day for the last two weeks to provide me with a list of what she wants to take, when she leaves. She promised me that she would, but has not. All I asked of her was a discussion and agreement on what she would take. However, she took it upon herself to just cherry pick her requirements, regardless of the fact that she has emptied 2 of the 3 children's bedrooms of furniture, and they are expecting to stay 2-3 nights a week with me.

The intrinsic value of what she has taken is minimal, but had it been consensual, I would have no issue. However, I defy anyone to instantly recollect their entire home contents at the drop of a hat. Her attitude is 'tell me what I can't take and I will leave it'. Do you know instantly what you have in your home? I certainly don't. Would you know what your partner had filched immediately from under your nose? I wouldn't.

My sol told me that I should deny her access to any private area of the business premises, as she threatened me this morning with an injunction. I was also told by my sol that EVERYTHING, including gifts, jewellry and clothes form part of the marital assets, I was also told to catalogue everything. If she wants something, providing I agree, release it to her, but obtain a receipt from her for everything.

This goes against all my moral principles, but that is the legal advice I was given.

I can prove unequivocally that she has been creaming monney from the business, but have chosen to ignore it so far. However, given the threatening undertone of her conversations with me, I feel that this may be brought to the fore in the future. She lied in mediation about where certain funds came from and went. I just wish to God that she would sit down and have a straight conversation and agreement with me, so both of us stop paying sols for effectively nothing more than an exchange of muscle flexing correspondance. As much as she does, I want out of our marriage, but she seems hell bent, despite starting the process, on making it as difficult as possible. All I want to achieve is the best financial l settlement for both of us that is possible. We both have to start again with the proceeds. Lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!

Thanks again,
Mike

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25 Oct 07 #5249 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
Yes, I have some experience of this. It's a hard place to be in when somone takes your bed and the TV. :angry:

It's not for me to argue with your sol, he/she is probably duty bound to say what they did. However, I think it's worth being pragmatic on this issue and not getting bogged down in legal technicalities. The ownership of household goods is often contentious, but unless there is an art collection or valuable antiques most people seem to let it go and courts don't appear to bother much either. CAB's advice;-

"It can be difficult to establish ownership of household possessions acquired during marriage. If one partner gave a present to the other and this intention was clear, the gift belongs to the person it was given to. You will also need to sort out ownership of possessions bought jointly or bought by one partner for joint use. If you cannot agree on this, you will need to go to court, although this is likely to be the least successful way of resolving the problem. Generally, the partner with whom the children live will be expected to keep domestic goods and equipment."

www.adviceguide.org.uk/f_ending_a_marriage.pdf



JMO, but I think to emerge from all of this with minimal damage to long term family relations reacting and the ensuing cycle of provocation/retaliation is best avoided. Responding with graciousness and restraint, taking a stance only when need be on really important stuff and letting the less important things pass is the way to side step years of ongoing hostility, unnecessary litigation and expensive solicitor's fees. Unfortunately sometimes it's just not possible to discuss and agree things. :(

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25 Oct 07 #5257 by gone1
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Its not worth arguing over furniture. I didnt even claim for any on my form E. Just let her take what she wants and replace it. The kids wont mind roughing it for a bit and a matress on the floor makes a perfect bed. As for the TV I think we are all better off without those!!

I didnt take anything from the FMH. Apart from my tools and personal affects. I was given 2 pictures and a lamp. They went up the local hospice shop and a mate had the lamp. I would not have anything from my FMH as I think its tainted. I still have the clothes that I wore when I was with her and bit by bit I am replacing them.

But we all think different. These things mean something to me. I want nothing around me that was anything todo with her. Chris.

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