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Sam, Attorney at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  More than 20 years of experience practicing law.
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On June 6th, 2013 my ex-wife and I appeared in front of a private

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On June 6th, 2013 my ex-wife and I appeared in front of a private judge and completed our dissolution of marriage. Part of our dissolution included a separation agreement which specified that "The household goods and furniture have previously been divided equitably between the parties, and each party shall retain the items in his or her respective possession as of the effective date of this Agreement". The separation agreement also included verbiage "Husband shall have exclusive use of the Marital Residence." Therefore, all furniture items and household goods in the house are inferred to be in my possession. This separation agreement was also signed and notarized in front of an attorney.

Post our dissolution I made a verbal agreement with my ex-spouse to remove a few additional furniture items from my house. On June 15th, my ex wife arrived at the house while I was not present and removed a significant amount of furniture above and beyond our verbal agreement. Additionally, she damaged some walls while removing lighting and wall fixtures. I had made a video recording that same morning showing the state of the house, all the furniture possessions, and post-it-notes applied on various items to make clearer that they were not to be removed or damaged. My ex wife also removed $600 in cash from my bedroom and left a note saying why she took it (claiming false justification). I have pictures and video from later that evening showing the state of the house and the items removed outside our agreement.

I filed a police report that evening and the police officer said he considered this a civil matter and not a criminal matter. Is his assessment likely correct that this is not a criminal theft? Consequently, if this is not a criminal case I assume I would have to pursue this matter in Licking County (Ohio) Small Claims Court. Since Small Claims Court cannot order persons to return property, could I seek the monetary value of the property removed and damage done to the property?

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Well it could be a criminal matter with the theft of the money - but because it is so close to the dissolution of the marriage the police are not going to get involved and will leave to the civil courts, unfortunately


And so yes you need to pursue it in small claims court - and you will have to request the value of the belongings. And then, of course, she can give you the money or return the items.


Small claims is relatively an easy process. I suggest you go to the clerk of the court in the county where you live and where the things were taken and request the packet of forms to file -


Before you do that, however, I suggest you to consider writing her a letter stating that she has breached the verbal agreement and that the following items are missing which were not part of the agreement - and the $600 should not have been taken either and that you want them returned. State that if she does not return them within 7 days of receipt of the letter you will have no other option but to file in small claims court


Mail this letter certified with a return receipt requested.


If she does not return the items or give the money then file the lawsuit.


This letter is important because it shows the court that you tried to settle this out of court and that she is not going to



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