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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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Shortly before our separation, my husband and I moved in with

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Shortly before our separation, my husband and I moved in with my parents, putting all of our belongings in storage. When we split, my husband went to live with his relatives. He refused to come get his things from the house and storage unit, so finally I packed his separate property, and a few items of community property, and drove it all out to him.

Our community property is still in storage, along with my separate property. From the start, he's refused to pay any part of the storage bills, which by now have probably exceeded the value of the stored property. He also refuses to help pay our credit card debt, all of which is in my name. The amount of debt is far greater than the value of our community property, but he's trying to claim that me keeping the debt and the property makes us all even!

My questions: 1) Is the community property still half his, or did he lose his half, by not paying the storage fees? Normally, if you fail to pay for your storage unit, you lose your property... 2) Can I force him to pay me half the storage costs so far incurred, even if he's no longer interested in this community property? 3) What is the effect of my separate property being stored in the same unit? (He claims the storage of community property is "free," because I'd be paying for storage anyway, for my separate property.)

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.

1. It's still half his. He can't forfeit his half of the community property unless he specifically says that he doesn't want it any more. However, the storage fees are a community debt, and the judge can order him to pay you half the fees from his share of the community property.

2. You can ask the judge to order him to pay all of the fees prior to the date that he decided that he didn't want the items anymore. If you don't want them, either, and you can't sell them for enough to cover his half of the storage fees, you can still ask the judge to award half of the community property to your husband - I'm not sure what types of items you're talking about, so it may or may not benefit him to just give everything to you.

3. The debt is a community debt, because the unit is being used to pay for community property, and was initially being used to pay for his separate property. You could just as easily say that you only put your separate property into the unit because you needed to rent it to hold the community property. The judge isn't going want to spend a lot of time listening to that. If you tell him what's in the unit, he should just divide the costs unless you're talking about a large unit, or which 90% is your personal items.

If you're talking about filing a motion for costs using FL-301, since it doesn't fit any of the other options, that's an "other" motion. However, FL-300 has replaced both 301 and 310. That's why you're not able to find the 310. Here is the new form, with the instructions:

Please rate my service before signing out, as this is the only way that I get credit for the time I spend helping you. I hope that you are 100% satisfied - if not, please click "reply" so that we may continue the conversation. Good luck.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi, Thanks for your response! I'm just wondering about your statement that "a judge could order him to pay all of the fees prior to the date that he decided that he didn't want the items anymore." And also, the statement that "he can't forfeit his half of the community property unless he specifically says that he doesn't want it any more."

He could say he "decided" that at any time... what would be acceptable (or unacceptable) ways for him to have established that "officially?" He's made remarks in texts or emails about how I've "got everything," that make it sound like he feels all the stuff is mine now. It's true that I have the only key, but I've made it clear that he can have access immediately once he's current on the storage bills. And in those same messages of his, he keeps referring to the items as "our" stuff...

Will he have to prove that we did formally decide the stuff was no longer any part his, or will I have to convince a judge that I wasn't aware of his wish to relinquish his claim to half of it?

Thanks! I will rate you as having given excellent service. Thanks for the new forms, too.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Oops - one more thing: at what point could I submit form FL-300? I've filed my petition for divorce, but am waiting to see if he files a response, and neither of us have exchanged preliminary disclosures yet. Thanks.
Really, to show that he gave up his rights to the stuff, you would need something signed by both of you where he agrees to give up the items and, in exchange, you agree to do something. If he says, "I'm giving you all the stuff because I don't want to pay the storage fees," you don't have to accept it. Avoiding storage fees isn't like calling who gets to ride in the front seat of the car.

If you haven't done the property disclosure yet, you can just list the storage debt as a community debt, and list the property in there as community property. There's space on the form for that. The motion would be for a situation where you wanted the money for the storage fees immediately, before the case was finalized. One example would be if you can't afford to pay the fees, and you wanted the money to avoid having the items forfeited to the storage facility, or you were looking for permission to sell the items and apply the proceeds to the storage fees, to protect your credit.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
So, here's where I get confused. I can't afford to pay these storage fees, but since I'm not willing to forfeit my/our stuff, I've been adding the storage costs to my credit card debt, where it will accumulate finance charges forever... But I can't list it as an outstanding debt on the disclosure forms, right? Even though that's exactly what it is, really, since I didn't pay the charge, I just transferred it. So in order to stop the finance charges, could I file this as a motion?

The other issue is that in the end, he may not end up paying me ANYTHING he owes me toward our debt, because of my retirement account that he'll get half of. So would doing this as a motion, now, potentially be a way of making him pay cash, now, rather than having it just be a line on the balance sheet when the settlement is finally done? THAT would be nice...!

It's still a joint debt, even if you're paying it with your personal credit card, essentially to avoid having your credit ruined and your belongings forcibly taken and sold. If you need the money now, you can file it now - explain to the judge exactly why and how you have been paying, and ask him to order your husband to contribute at least to the charges that accumulated before you gave him his stuff. You're allowed to say something like, "The Petitioner respectfully XXXXX XXXXX court to order the judge to pay $X to represent 50% of the storage charges as of DATE, plus 50% of the charges going forward. In the alternative, Petitioner requests that the respondent be ordered to pay $Y, to represent charges incurred as of DATE." That way, the judge can look and make his own decision regarding which is appropriate.

If you need the money now, to keep from losing all of your stuff, you can ask for it now. That way, he'll still get 50% of your retirement account when the time comes, rather than 50% - his share of the storage costs. The judge has some discretion, but your request is reasonable.
Lucy, Esq. and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It seems a bit disrespectful for me to ask the court to order the judge to pay me anything -- are you sure this approach will work...? ha ha - j/k - I know, it's a typo... Thanks very much for the not-legal-advice. Very helpful!
:-) Oops! I'm glad you caught that. Sorry. I'm glad I could help.