Separation and Divorce

Separation of Common-Law Couples: Furniture and Personal Belongings


You were living with someone, but weren’t married. You just broke up. Can your partner take furniture? Sell some of the furniture? What about personal belongings? This article explains the rules in these situations.

Taking Furniture and Personal Belongings

Each person can do what they want with their own furniture and personal belongings, that is, furniture and personal belongings they paid for or received as a gift.

This means that they can do the following:

  • take their furniture and personal belongings with them when they leave
  • sell this furniture or belongings
  • give them to someone else

If the partners don’t agree on who owns what, a judge will have to sort it out.

How do you prove who bought a piece of furniture and other items?

It can be hard to prove who paid for something. If there’s no bill or other proof of purchase, a judge hearing a request from the partners to divide up their property will listen to what each partner has to say and try to figure out who’s telling the truth.

What happens if both partners paid for the furniture or other property?

They have to decide together who keeps what, and whether one person has to reimburse the other. If they can’t reach an agreement, one of them can ask a judge to decide.

Getting Back Furniture and Personal Belongings Left Behind

A partner who moves out can return to pick up any items he or she owns 100%. The partners can decide on the best time to do this. A lawyer can help.

If the person still living in the home refuses to give back these items, the person who moved out can

  • file a complaint with the police, or
  • sue to get the items back and ask for money to make up for not being able to use them.