If My Ex Gave Me Furniture, Do I Have to Give It Back If We Break Up?


Ontario Family Law Podcast

14 - Family Court Step by Step - Part 1 - Starting and Responding to Family Court Proceedings

29 - Common Law Separation and Property Division

9 - Property Division in Ontario After Marriage

Gifts made during a relationship can be the source of tension and conflict when that relationship breaks down and the reason for giving the gift no longer exists.  Although items such a furniture are usually not worth enough to justify hiring a family law lawyer, other gifts such as jewelry, engagement rings or art can be worth going to family court or arbitration over.  Still, knowing the law can help you resolve these disputes.

The first big question when dividing property after a relations is whether you and your spouse were married.  If you were married, everything you owed remains yours, but the furniture would be part of your net family property and the value of it would be shared pursuant to section
5 of Ontario's Family Law Act.  (Watch the video below for more on property division in an Ontario Divorce).  In a divorce, section 24 of the Family Law Act says a judge can order that a spouse cannot take the furniture or other contents out of a matrimonial home - regardless of who owns it.)

If you and your ex were never married, then, in Ontario, Family Law does not apply to property issues and you each own what you own and can do what you like with it.  That rule can be subject to claims in equity, which separated common law couples make regularly. 
This podcast explains those claimsYou can defeat those claims if you can prove  that the gift was clearly a gift.  Separating spouse frequently say that a gift was not actually a gift, but a loan, or a conditional gift, or something that was meant for both spouses to own together.  It is up to the person alleging the gift to prove it.  But, if it is clear that the furniture, or other items, were an unconditional gift to you, then they are yours to deal with as you like.  If you have any doubt as to whether it was an unconditional gift, you probably need to speak to a family law lawyer about the specifics of your case.

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including property division, support, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But, it is always best to speak to a good family law lawyer

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law - 4th edition cover

The best way to protect yourself, your children, your stuff and other things and people that are important to you, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take to get things to work out for you. Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book above), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5869, or using the contact form below.  We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate). 

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