Do I return the stuff?
August 3, 2014 6:40 PM   Subscribe

I found some things belonging to my ex-husband and I'm really not sure how to proceed.

I'm moving in soon with the most awesome man. As a result, I’m clearing out storage space in the place I moved to three years ago after a nasty divorce that dragged out over a year and a half. I have had no contact with my ex-husband since the terms of the divorce were finalized and most contact prior to that was though lawyers. We were married for seven years total, if that matters, and had no children. There is a no-contact provision in our separation agreement that forbids either one of us from going to the home of the other. This was necessary after he started to involve my employer in our conflict.

When I was clearing stuff in the storage area today, I opened a box that I haven't touched since my move three years ago. A couple of the items were things that might have sentimental value to my ex-husband, a mug with his family crest and a soapstone type sculpture. There may be other items, I didn't dig too far into the box and the other items I unwrapped were mine. These items have essentially been in storage since the wedding ten years ago and were just never unpacked. I do have contact on Facebook with my former sister-in-law, but other members of my ex's family are blocked. The agreement I had with my former sister-in-law was that we liked each other and were friends separate from what happened in the marriage. Although I know she has contact with her brother now after they were estranged for a bit, I don’t want to put her in the middle and I’m not comfortable asking her to take the items.

I can find out where he works via LinkedIn. I could just send the items to his workplace. I really don't want any contact with him, but I feel incredibly guilty just tossing these items. Do I send them? If I send them, do I include a note? I’m leaning towards sending the items with no note. The most awesome man doesn't have a strong opinion either way, but trusts me to do what I feel comfortable doing.
posted by TORunner to Human Relations (25 answers total)
Can you send it via your lawyer?
posted by xingcat at 6:43 PM on August 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Could you possibly contact him through the divorce attorney?
posted by MariJo at 6:43 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can you send it to his lawyer?
posted by littlesq at 6:44 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nasty divorce with no contact provision + stuff that's been in storage 10 ten years = throw it out.
posted by hollisimo at 6:44 PM on August 3, 2014 [41 favorites]

He clearly hasn't missed them. Donate.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:47 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Donate, and feel zero guilt. You have the permission of the random Internet stranger to do so.
posted by slateyness at 6:55 PM on August 3, 2014

Don't toss, he may well may have missed them, then forgot it and would like it back. I know there is stuff I no longer know where it is that I would love to have back... send it along. Either via lawyer or to his work place, small note : "found when cleaning stuff out".
posted by edgeways at 6:59 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Toss it out. Your safety is more important than his half remembered junk.
posted by spunweb at 7:04 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

He clearly hasn't missed them.
How could you possibly know this? Even the OP couldn't, especially given the no contact clause.

I don't really get why the OP should throw them out or donate them as a first resort. Spite? Malice? Indifference? It's not like sending the ex-sister-in-law a little message asking if she'd be up for it would be some heinous difficulty. And are zero other mutual contacts known?

If the ex-sister-in-law doesn't want to do it, and no other mutual contacts are known, and the lawyer would charge some outrageous fee to do it, then sure, donate it. But "Fuck it as a first resort" doesn't seem either reasonable or good to me.
posted by Flunkie at 7:05 PM on August 3, 2014 [45 favorites]

Nthing Send it to his attorney with a letter saying you found while moving and please forward on to Ex. His attorney will call him and he will just pick them up, I doubt they'll charge him for it, unless they have to ship it, and they certainly won't charge you.
posted by katypickle at 7:09 PM on August 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Emailing the ex sister-in-law to ask if she minds passing on a box of stuff if you mail it to her hardly sounds like it would be putting her in the middle of anything. It seems like the most straightforward, drama-free way to handle it.
posted by MsMolly at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2014 [24 favorites]

Don't send to his workplace. You already had problems with him and YOUR workplace.
No contact is no contact.
If you can find the lawyer contact information then send it to them with a note to please pass this on to your Ex. Make sure there is no personal location information about you on the box.
If you can't find the lawyer, you might contact the sister and ask her whether she'd mind accepting the box from you. This can be done without involving her in the drama by not creating any drama when you ask her. "I found some things that belong to your family, would you be amenable to receiving this box?"
posted by calgirl at 7:10 PM on August 3, 2014 [11 favorites]

I’m leaning towards sending the items with no note.

Ixnay. Use the lawyer as intermediary. There's no need for guilt, and there's no need to involve anyone other than official legal channels.

If you send it to him without a note he may very well perceive it as you needling him or sending him a silent Eff You. It will likely come across as passive-aggressive. At the very least, it will stir up feelings in him, as he will be taken by surprise by it (versus it being mediated by his attorney acting as go-between). It will change the dynamic of your no-contact in a not-good way.
posted by nacho fries at 7:14 PM on August 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you send them directly to him, aren't you violating the terms of the divorce agreement?

I agree with sending them to his lawyer, assuming you do actually believe he'll want them. (People have different relationships with stuff; if they were mine, I'd be happy for you to toss them, for instance.) If you have any fear that returning them to him, even through his lawyer, will cause him to start stalking you (not sure if that's what you mean by him involving your employer), throw them out.
posted by jaguar at 7:18 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even if he was the worst asshole ever, even if he forgot the box existed, it's still his stuff. Send it to his lawyer or his sister with no note.
posted by desjardins at 7:21 PM on August 3, 2014 [12 favorites]

Nthing send them to his lawyer. Not YOUR lawyer, or you might be charged. Directly to his lawyer.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:22 PM on August 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Nthing sending them to his sister or lawyer with no note, if your conscience is nagging you. I did just that when i found an ex's wallet in my parents' couch cushions, two years after we'd split (and five years after he'd been on the couch, incidentally). I stuck it in an envelope and sent it to his mother, with no return address and an unsigned note that simply said "found this, please return" and that was that. Don't know what more happened after I dropped it in the mail, don't care.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:37 PM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing his lawyer, Nthing the OMG do not do anything that even violates the spirit of the no contact agreement.
posted by phearlez at 7:42 PM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Same exact thing happened to me, with the no contact order no less. I dropped my ex's grandmother's fine china off at his lawyer's office. Left it with the receptionist. Didn't wait around for his lawyer to object. All that = not my problem anymore.

I will admit I was tempted to trash them. My ex was abusive and mean, couldn't give a rat's ass about anything sentimental, etc. He did not deserve my courtesy or the china. But I am, and have always been, a better person than he is. I did the right thing.
posted by murrey at 10:06 PM on August 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

Have a courier take them to his lawyer's office.
posted by converge at 11:27 PM on August 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

It would be kind to email his lawyer, offering to deliver the items to a safe location. Being kind might help you in your recovery from your rotten divorce.

If you choose to toss the items, no harm no foul.
posted by theora55 at 5:39 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do nothing that violates the spirit of the agreement. Do nothing that makes you feel uncomfortable or that may have repercussions for you.

I was unpleasantly divorced twelve years ago. If my ex returned a box of my possessions today the first thing I'd feel would be the resurfacing of a lot of old feelings, probably not good ones.
posted by Hogshead at 5:40 AM on August 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Contact your attorney, or his.
posted by tckma at 7:10 AM on August 4, 2014

Nthing to just pack up his items and ship the box to his lawyer's office. Include a minimal, businesslike note: "Found items belonging to Mr. Ex, please return to him. Thank you."
posted by desuetude at 8:57 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would drop/send to his lawyer. If his lawyer will charge, then tell them to charge your husband and carry on. Since you are asking the question, I feel you don't really want to just throw the items away or donate them. No contact is just that. I would not go through the sister-in-law as your ex may not know you are still in contact with her and will be greatly upset with her and you. Through his lawyer or not at all.
posted by BostonCannuck at 9:01 AM on August 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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