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So my real question - is a lawyer worth it?

Yes, Yes it is!
This man is you and your son. You do not owe him anything. $3500 is nothing to sneeze at so if you just kept your money and gave him back the car you probably could afford to buy yourself a reliable used car and be free of him. Also, if you get a lawyer you and stbx would have to split the marital assets more equitably and you (and your son!!) would end up better off in the end. Also, the lawyer could help you get back your belongings. He has no right to keep anything he gave you; they are yours! And let's face it if he kept these things he probably kept quite a bit more. As far as the taxes go just file seperately and keep your money; he is not entitled to it. Stop enabling him and make him take responsibility for himself. It does not end here. If you give in on these things he is just going to keep coming back and asking for more. It is not going to stop. I am sorry if I sound harsh, but your story has got my hackles raised on your behalf. I can't stand how he is taking advantage of you. The sooner you are free of him the better off you are going to be.
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