Can my ex-boyfriend legally hold my personal belongings?

About a month ago I left our home and have been staying with my parents, due to a
domestic violence event. My ex-boyfriend and I maintained daily contact up until
yesterday, in which he has now informed me that he has given all of my belongings
away or sold them. We had recently purchased a 1,000 television and that is one
of the items he claims to have sold. I am still paying on this television, as we
financed it and it is under my name. At first he claims to have sold it, then
said he gave it away and now he is saying that I took the television when I left.
Now, I have witness to his erratic abusive behavior. I only want my belongings
back or paid the money for the belongings he got rid of. Are there laws that
protect me even though I have not been technically living there for a little over
a month? I still have bills in my name at this residence and can provide proof
the television is financed in my name.

Asked on May 16, 2016 under Family Law, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No person may take or give away or sell another's possessions without the consent of the other person, or a court order (such as after a lawsuit) giving him possession of those items. You can sue your boyfriend for the then-current value of the items--which is not the price you paid or still owed. For example, you say the TV cost $1,000, but objects depreciate; if, in its no-longer-new state, it would have been worth $700, that's the amount you could sue for. If the total value at stake is less than or equal to the limit for small claims court, suing in small claims, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") is a good option, so you can save on legal costs. 

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