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I need to leave my husband.In the process of leaving what can and can't I take with me? He is an alcoholic things may get broke

Manawa, WI |

My husband is an alcoholic, he will find ways to take money and sell things if he has none. Am I legally able to take all the belongings from the house? I fear that if I don't I will never see the things I have worked so hard to get. He will either break them or sell them to make sure he has money.

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Attorney answers 1


I presume that you will be filing for divorce. Please consult with a family attorney to help you with these issues.

Emptying out the house probably is not a good idea. In fact, it's a terrible idea. Here's why:
The things you acquire while you are married become marital property, and both husband and wife have legal rights with respect to that property. You don't have the legal right to deprive him of his use of marital property without his consent just as he doesn't have a legal right to deprive you of your use of marital property without your consent.

When you file for divorce, you and your husband are prohibited from "encumbering, concealing, damaging, destroying, transferring or otherwise disposing of property owned by either or both parties, except in the usual course of business, in order to secure necessities, or in order to pay reasonable costs and expenses of the action, including attorney fees." If he sells marital property in violation of that statute, he can be sanctioned for contempt and the value of that property can be charged against him in the final property division.

From a practical perspective, when you're splitting up, if you take everything then he is going to have to spend money to buy new stuff that's probably better than the stuff you're taking. A better strategy is to try to come to an agreement about what you are taking and what you are leaving for him. Try to be reasonable and fair, and make sure you are treated fairly too.

If there are family heirlooms that you've inherited, or items that were given to you as gifts, those are not marital property - you can certainly take those (but keep track of them in your list of stuff and make a special note that it was gifted/inherited).

Under no circumstances try to be sneaky or hide the fact that you have possession of something. That'll just come back to haunt you. Remember that this is not the final property division - you're just splitting things up enough that both of you have what you need. Make a list of all of your property, and keep careful records about what you take and what you leave. Both of you will have to account for that property in your property settlement. Remember that even though you may have possession of something during the divorce proceedings doesn't make it yours or mean you'll get to keep it forever. You and your husband will have to work that out in the property settlement.

TRY to work things out - under the circumstances I know it won't be easy or fun. If at any time you feel that you are in danger, get out and call the police.

I wish you good luck and a good life!

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