Furniture bought and gifted to me by boyfriend (now EX). Can he get it back?

Asked 8 months ago in Burlington, Ontario
Categories: General Legal Questions  Family Law

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John  P. Schuman, C.S.

Answer by John P. Schuman, C.S.

VerifiedOntario lawyer

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 this video 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 claims.  You 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. 

Posted 8 months ago

John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law.  He is the partner managing the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a full service law firm located near Eglinton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Learn more about John! Call him at 416-446-5080 or 416-446-5847 or email Listen to the Ontario Family Law Podcast!

Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For formal legal advice, hire a lawyer (many give a free first consultation). Contact John P. Schuman, C.S., or search the Lawyer Directory.

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