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Can my ex-boyfriend take back material items he bought for me when we were together?

Albany, NY |

I can no longer continue a romantic relationship with my ex. He has become angry and acts like a crazy person. I dont recognize him anymore and believe him to be using drugs. He purchased some home items for me during our 9 year relationship and has threatened to remove these items from my home as punishment for me ending our relationship.

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Attorney answers 4


It doesn't sound like you're married, in which case property acquired during your marriage would be divided.

Technically, you're not supposed to take back a gift, but there are exceptions and practicalities. An engagement ring has to be given back if you're not going to marry. And other stuff which is a gift is usually supposed to stay with the person gifted. But if by home items you're talking about appliances or furniture, it's going to be hard to prove it was really a gift and not just common property for your household. Clothing, perfume or a lingerie given as a birthday gift, well maybe.

But it's going to be very hard as a practical matter to prove these were gifts. It could well be as you say, acting out of anger to punish you, but my counsel here if you are not married is to run, not walk and forget about continuing the relationship, even if, or especially if, it's just arguing about "stuff".

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Since you were not married, you did not create a community. Under the division of community property and separate property, gifts would be considered separate property and therefore not subject to division. However, now you have an issue of proving that you recieved these things as gifts. Just remember, they are things and not worth your safety. Let him have it all just to get rid of it and get the piece of mind you need. It is better to be safe than to win. Good luck.


That really all depends. If you can establish that he gave them to you as a gift, you may be permitted to keep them. However, if he has receipts and claims that he purchased them for his use in your home, then he will be entitled to get those items back. Depending on the value of the items that you are talking about, this might be a small claims matter. This would not be a family law issue. I will change your tag.


In addition to the other answers, Id suggest you may want to let him take those things, as it will make your life easier in the long run. If he is really out of control, do you want to add fuel to his emotions from the break up? If you give him these things, he has less reason to hassle you ongoing. Ive seen people litigating because at least for one, it was a way to see the other, and to still be connected to them. This is practical advice as opposed to the legal answers provided to you.

Jack Richard Lebowitz

Jack Richard Lebowitz


Indeed, couldn't agree more.

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