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Dividing household items in a divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2023 | Firm News |

When you’re going through a divorce, there are tons of decisions that have to be made, and some of the issues that may seem small at first can take on oversized significance once your emotions kick in.

This is particularly true when you start to divide a houseful of furniture and other personal items. Everything from the family photos to the silverware can become a contentious subject – but you probably don’t want to spend court time arguing over the dishes. There are all kinds of methods used to handle the division of household items on your own, but here are a few tips that can help:

1. Decide what you can agree to divide without further negotiation

If you have any household items of significant value, such as an art collection or antiques, you may want to handle those separate from mundane (lower-valued) items, like your couch and the lawn tools. Go room by room and make a list of everything that you agree you can divide without getting an appraiser involved.

2. Agree on what items you think should be kept together

If your living room couch and chairs and your dishware were bought as sets, then it may just be simpler to keep them together when items are divided. That means listing the dishes, silverware, pots and pans, yard tools and similar items as a “lot” of items that will all go to one person.

3. Decide how to handle certain special items

Your grandma’s desk may have graced the joint study for years, but it should probably go to you in the divorce, and things that belong to the kids should be treated as theirs, not divided between you and your spouse. Meanwhile, your spouse’s book collection should really be given to them. If any of these items have significant value, that can be handled by making sure that the other spouse gets something equal in return.

4. Agree on how you will split everything on the list

There’s no “right” way to do this. You can take turns picking items (or groups of them) from the list, which more-or-less forces each of you to prioritize your wants and needs, or you can divide everything up into two piles of mostly equal value and flip a coin for which one you get. As long as you both agree to the process, it’s probably fine.

When you’re going through a complicated divorce process, experienced legal guidance can help.