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Who gets the personal property if your partner moves out?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed September 2019

What can I do if I’m at a 209A hearing and the person that abused me asks the judge for an order to take personal property?

Judges order many kinds of abuse prevention in 209A orders. A judge can order a person not to abuse you, to stay away from you, and other things.   All of these orders are to protect you, the abused person.   Judges should not include anything in 209A Protective Orders to benefit an abusive person. The law, Chapter 209A, does not say that the judge can allow the person who abused you to take personal property.

Some judges may consider a request from the person who abused you to get their property anyway.

But, you may want the abusive person to take some personal property, if it can be done safely.  You might not want their clothes and personal items lying around.  You may want the person who abused you to have tools from your house they need for work because you want them working.

If the judge is thinking about an order that will allow the person who abused you to get stuff from your home,  make sure you ask the judge to include plans in the order for this to happen safely. Some plans you can ask the judge to include in the order include:

  • A police escort for the person who abused you to come collect the things;
  • Name the specific things the person who abused you is allowed to take;
  • that the personal property be truly personal: clothes, toiletries, identification and similar personal papers, tools for work; not the TV, radio, computer, appliances, furniture;
  • that the person who abused you is not allowed to come into your home, even to get personal property. You can collect the things and leave them at the door, or at someone else’s house.

Who to call for help

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You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

Chapter 11. Appendix

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