Separation and divorce
Retrieving household items and personal belongings left in the home
Do you want to retrieve the personal belongings and household effects you left behind when you moved out after a breakup? Several options are possible depending on you situation.
Reach an agreement with your ex
Generally speaking, the simplest and quickest way to retrieve the household effects and personal belongings you left in the home when you separated is to reach an agreement with your ex, if you can.
There are several possibilities to make sure you avoid conflict when retrieving your items. For example, you can:
- Agree in advance on the terms (e.g., date, time, length of time you will be in the home, list of items you will retrieve),
- Ask a neutral party to be there when you go to pick up your things,
- Suggest that another person retrieve your things in your place.
If it’s difficult to have a dialogue with your ex, you can send a written request to propose one or more of these solutions.
Apply to the court
If you and your ex can’t reach an agreement, you can ask a judge to allow you to retrieve your household items and personal belongings. Depending on your situation, the options available and the time it will take can vary.
If you wish to get your personal belongings quickly, you can make an “application for a safeguard order”. This is an application to a judge for a ruling on an urgent issue.
The judge that receives the application could, for example:
- allow you to retrieve your personal effects at your ex’s home, specifying the date and conditions for doing so.
- order your ex to give your personal effects back to you, specifying the date on which he or she must do so.
If you want to retrieve something other than your personal effects – furniture, for example – an application for a safeguard order might not let you do it and you might have to take other steps before the court.
In some cases, it could take several months to get your things.
To find out which option is the most appropriate in your situation, and to learn about the steps you have to take, speak with a lawyer or visit a legal clinic.
Ask the police for help in case of conjugal or family violence
In some cases, for example if the situation involves conjugal or family violence, a police officer can go with you to your ex’s home to pick up your essential personal belongings.
It’s important to remember that the police will accompany you if you are retrieving only your essential personal effects (e.g., identification cards, medication, clothing, etc. ), not everything that belongs to you.
Inquire at your local police station to find out if they can help you.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.
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