When it comes to dividing property in a divorce, couples understandably focus on the big things -- houses, cars, bank accounts and valuables like art and antiques. They often leave "household items" until last.
However, that's a big category, and often includes things of sentimental value to one or both people. The division of household items can be conflict-ridden. It's best to settle these conflicts yourselves. It's not cost-effective to ask your lawyer to help you fight for a sofa or exercise bike. Lawyers should attend to the larger issues. If the two of you can work together, the first step is to agree on a strategy for dividing this property.
Lists Are Crucial
First, you should each list your separate property. These are the things you had when you got married. It also includes gifts your spouse gave you and gifts your family gave both of you -- at least that's how a court would likely rule.
Once you've agreed on and excluded your separate property, list everything that is marital property. Then you both review the list and note what you want. At that point, you'll know what only one of you wants, what neither of you wants and what you both want.
Focus on the Items You Both Want
That last category is all you need to worry about. There are several ways to handle these items. If you both want something for its monetary value, you can trade something in return or one person can pay the other for a share of it. If you're unsure (or can't agree) on fair pricing, look at eBay or Craig's List for similar items. For more expensive items, you may need to call an appraiser.
For items of sentimental value, you can take turns choosing an item from the list. You may also choose to take turns with it. However, that may mean unnecessary contact after the divorce.
Disposing of Unwanted Items
For items that neither person wants, some people hold a garage sale and split the proceeds. Others give them to charity and split the tax deduction. Sometimes, things are only fit to be hauled away as trash.
You should set a deadline where all of your household items will be dealt with one way or another. That's where it's a good idea to bring your lawyers in to include that deadline in your divorce agreement.
As you can see, this process isn't something you want to leave until the last minute. If you run into conflicts with your spouse during the process, your divorce attorney can offer advice and answer questions on your legal rights to a particular piece of property.
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