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Can one spouse unilaterally dispose of property during a marriage in Minnesota?

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New member
Our mother and her husband live in Minnesota. He is a hoarder and refuses to get therapeutic help, but their home and expensive rental locations are packed wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, and have become unsafe (safety-wise as well as mentally and physically). He agreed that in lieu of getting help to address this he was okay with us having a company move everything out and discarding/donating it, but now he’s acting badly and making decisions that are risky and even illegal— and he knows divorce is the next step for our mom if things don’t change very soon (we set deadlines with him for this). The question is: Is she allowed to discard these things even without his permission, or under joint ownership laws, would he have recourse against her, especially if this one day does progress to the point of divorce? From what I’ve read, as long as they are married, either or both spouses have an equal right to sell, donate, discard or otherwise make decisions about joint marital property items, such as all the miscellaneous “stuff” he has accumulated in their home and at these other locations where they are paying for space. Could you please confirm if this is correct?


Senior Member
The "stuff" is as much hers as it is his and she can do whatever she wants with it.

As for recourse against her, about the only thing I can think of is if she sells anything for money he could be entitled to half the proceeds as part of the divorce settlement. I suggest that any money she gets for anything is put in a separate account in her own name, so the money's available in case he gets awarded part of it.

If she does file for divorce, a preliminary injunction that is part of the filing will stop the disposal of any marital property.


Senior Member, Non-Attorney
Why are you so involved in this man's business?

I know the question sounds snarky, but there could be valid reasons for your involvement. I'd just like to get an idea of your position in the matter.


Under the Radar Member
I'm wondering if Mom is included in the "we" deciding these things. Additionally, has he been seen by a doctor? Does he have children of his own who should perhaps be consulted?


New member
Sure appreciate everybody trying to help. Our mom is an emotional wreck right now, but yes, she is involved in all of the decision making. It’s just that my brother and I are leading the charge, doing all of the research and obtaining information, etc. (My brother is in California and I am Maryland – – with this going on in Minnesota, so it’s been a bit of extra coordination to pull off.) I’m a retired clinical social worker, so I was working hard to try to get him some professional help, which he agreed to after a recent DWI arrest, but then decided not to go. I also did insist he seek medical care and had recent neuropsychiatric testing, found him a therapist who specializes in hoarding/OCD, but then he has either failed to follow up on his appointments or has lied to everybody including the doctors. My brother has been supplying money to them for many years since her husband quit his real job unannounced and started accumulating these things, originally with the idea of reselling them, which has never happened (and I am talking about a decade and a half or so now). My brother is no longer willing to supply this money to both of them given the situation. Our mom has been talking about divorce for a long time, but was holding out hope that he would either get help and/or a clear out all of his “stuff“ which is absolutely out of control. Just as an example, I will attach a photo of an absolutely over-packed, unsafe storage locker that is costing them money, which is one of three physical locations in Minnesota where he has all of his “stuff.“ he apparently has taken family belongings and other things of value and somehow transported them to these places, so it’s going to be quite a job getting help to haul away what does not need to be kept. Their city has sanctioned them, and he has things stored like this in many places including the house. And the answer about his having children is that yes, he has three children with very little relationship with him, who are just becoming aware of the severity of the problem, but are unwilling to be involved. Our mother also has mental health and physical limitations, which is why she can’t do more of this herself right now. That’s why this has been on my brother and me.

Sorry, I am not seeing a way to attach a photo after all without a web link. But picture a full-size storage locker literally without an inch of space, not temperature-controlled, where if you open the door, everything is being held back by big straps. It’s the same scenario in their garage, basement, other rooms in the house, and then another mess at a remote location we are he also rents space. And they somehow spent $10,000 this past year building a wall to hide a lot of what was in their yard that the city was requiring they move out of sight. This of course was not a good solution.

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