Can a spouse that doesn’t contribute anything to the household,sell such items as furniture without the consent of their spouse?

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Can a spouse that doesn’t contribute anything to the household,sell such items as furniture without the consent of their spouse?

My mother-in-law’s husband is an alcoholic and an idiot. He was fired because he never showed up for work. He has been hospitalized for drinking too much and since then hasn’t been working. He recently started selling off all of her, and their 2 children’s, furniture. Is he allowed to do that considering that he hasn’t paid for any of it? Also, she has tried to divorce him apparently, however, he will not sign the papers and he won’t leave so that they can be legally separated. What can she do?

Asked on April 15, 2011 under Family Law, Virginia

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

She needs to immediately try to get the materials back and if that is next to impossible, she should legally separate from him so as to legally show any money she makes is not a marital asset.  This will prevent him from laying claim to any of her assets. If she owns the home and he is not on the mortgage or deed, she needs to kick him out and possibly get a restraining order. Further, she should talk to the attorney about the laws in your state to see if his selling off her property is considered larceny in any way shape or form. She can obtain a divorce by appearing in court and if he refuses to appear she can obtain a default judgment to obtain a divorce. He doesn't have to agree to divorce for her to be divorced. She needs a seasoned divorce attorney to help her and to get all the assets squared away. She can also show what date she no longer wished to be married to him and she should consider contacting the police if she solely owns the home to civilly escort him out of the property.


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