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

Answers:

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.


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