I am serving a 5-year prison sentence. While incarcerated, my wife of 5 years is selling my belongings such as my cars, trucks, campers, dogs, tools, motorcycles, clothes, etc. Some property is titled in my name, some is jointly owned. Some of it is in KY, and some is in OH.

Is this legal? Can I "put a block" on these items to prevent the sale?

I have family willing to retrieve items and store them. She has already cleared out both checking and savings accounts leaving me with nothing. All before mentioned items are paid off. We have no children in common.

  • 1
    Talk to a lawyer or contact your family and get them to talk to a lawyer; find a lawyer who offers free initial consultations. This site is not for legal advice. Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 17:24
  • Sounds like liquidating joint assets while planning a divorce. You need to lawyer up right now and, if in denial, get out of it. Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 22:59
  • I've taken a crack at making this ask a specific legal question addressed by the existing answers.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 5:14

3 Answers 3


Certain things are your separate property, and only you can sell them (but you are also responsible for them). That would include things acquired before the marriage; also anything inherited by just one of you, or gifts provably given to just one of you. Other things are community (marital) property, including your pants and probably your dog. Writing your name on the object or a piece of associated paper doesn't really matter, what matters is how it was acquired.

One party can sell their half-interest in joint property, but nobody (?) would buy a property interest in a dog, they would buy the dog. For another person to actually buy a dog, they would have to buy a 100% interest in the dog, meaning that you would have to agree to the sale. When it comes to property with a solid title system, such as real estate, one party cannot sell the whole property without the consent of the co-owner. However, a co-owner could petition the courts to force a partition of the property, where the courts would order that the proceeds be divided equitably. Ohio law on division of marital property is spelled out here.

Getting a lawyer is really the only reasonable solution. You can't just "put a block" on selling stuff. If you want the tools, somebody has to collect the tools and take care of them, and they can't just break in to the house in the middle of the night to do this.

  • This analysis would apply in a community property state, but neither Ohio nor Kentucky are community property states. In states like Ohio and Kentucky, a spouse has no interest in property titled in the other spouse's name until a divorce at which point the divorce court can allocate any property regardless of how acquired or when to either spouse without regard to title on an equitable basis. There is not a marital property-separate property distinction. Title to tangible personal property, not subject to certificates of title, of course, can be very ambiguous.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Feb 26, 2021 at 8:34

While incarcerated, my wife of 5 years is selling my belongings such as my cars, trucks, campers, dogs, tools, motorcycles, clothes, etc. Some property is titled in my name, some is jointly owned. Some of it is in KY, and some is in OH.

If what you have said is true, it is probably not legal, but you don't have many effective remedies.

In the case of tangible personal property that doesn't have a certificate of title like dogs, tools, clothes, and sometimes campers, etc., as a practical matter, possession in nine-tenths of the law and there is no meaningful way to invalidate a sale or prevent it from happening short of divesting your wife of possession of the property (e.g. by giving someone a power of attorney to act on your behalf and having them take it, if they can prove that you are the sole owner of it).

In the case of a car, truck or motorcycle, and sometimes campers, those assets would ordinarily have a certificate of title, so if you are the sole owner, or a joint owner, your wife cannot transfer good title to those assets to a new buyer without a power of attorney from you, or having herself appointed as a guardian or conservator for you by a court (but you would have gotten notice of a guardian or conservatorship proceeding). She could also get permission to sell the assets from a divorce court in temporary or permanent orders, but you would have gotten notice if that happened. Or, she could have just forged your name on the documents.

Anyone buying those assets would risk having you take them back from them in the future, but they would probably have a defense to that if they were good faith purchasers of the assets (i.e. if they didn't know that the signature was forged) and they took for substantially equivalent value to the value of the things sold (which for used tangible personal property, isn't much), and all of that is assuming that you could find the buyers, which you probably couldn't.

Another option would be to file for divorce and ask for an offset in the distribution of property at that time for your property that has been sold without your permission. But if the property is tangible personal property without certificates of title, proving this to the court while you are in prison would be very difficult (which it would have been in any case). Also, both Ohio and Kentucky are separate property states rather than community property states in which assets are divided upon divorce not strictly 50-50 as to marital property, but instead in an "equitable division". And, a judge in Kentucky or Ohio might very likely determine that your wife should get all of your assets, without regard to title, because she needs money to live since she isn't in prison, and you don't because the state is providing you with food and shelter and clothing whether you like it or not. Also, a long period of incarceration is usually consider a ground for a fault based divorce which many states still allow as a consideration in property divisions.


If it's under you're name.

If the products you're wife is selling are under your name and if it is not you're well and if it's not on your behalf it might be a crime. If your wife is selling stuff to pay off a fine or maybe even debt it is legal. Source

If its a joint name

Unless your spouse is selling things off in order to pay for food, clothing, shelter; or, routinely sells things that you own in order make a living, the answer is 'no'; your spouse cannot get rid of your belongings or assets during, or leading up to, your divorce.

If it's a joint name (You and Your wife) and have half interest it is probably legal for you're wife to sell it.

If it's under your name

If that's the case what your wife is doing is illegal.

What to do about it

Hire a lawyer to deal with this. Although it's kinda weird too sue you're wife if you're mad at it you can (I'm not suggesting) get the advice of a divorce attorney)

If you're still in jail you can argue by video or mail. I don't have much knowledge of how inmates sue so I recommend you research more about it.

  • 3
    -1 for grammar so bad it's impossible to analyze the substance of the answer.
    – bdb484
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 19:09
  • 2
    You are misreading your source on "If your wife is selling stuff to pay off a fine or maybe even debt it is legal". It is referring to being legally forced to forfeit the property, not just doing it unilaterally to pay things off.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 5:15

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