What to do if my girlfriend purchased furniture for my home when we were together but we’ve have been broken up for 3 years and she’s just now asking for it back?

She wants it now because her sister and son need furniture. Do I need to return it after 3 years? I would have given it all back right after we broke up if she asked for it then. I feel 3 years is too long to ask for it back. Can you tell me in your opinion if by chance she took me to court, do I have a valid defense?

Asked on October 16, 2013 under Business Law, Nevada


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If belongings were given as a gift, they cannot be "ungiven"--that is, once something is gifted, it belongs to the recipient and the giver has no right to it. The issue then is whether this was a gift to you, or whether she bought the furniture for herself but you benefited because you had lived together. There is no clear, bright line rule as to when something is a gift or not: it depends on the circumstances and the facts. After three years, it is likely that a court would find that the furniture was gifted or given to you, but that is not certain; so you likely have a good defense, based on the facts, but it is possible you'd lose if there is other credible and persuasive evidence or testimony that your ex-girlfriend bought the furniture for herself.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.