How Do We Divide Our Personal Property?
There are plenty of horror stories about couples fighting over personal property. Whether it is the clothes in your closet, the furniture around the house, or the boxes of stuff in your attic or basement, there is always a potential for a battle over who keeps what as part of a separation and divorce. But, before staking your undying claim to the only crock pot, please take into careful consideration the following five observations.
First, make every effort to resolve these issues on your own. Not only is it expensive for both parties to continue to pay their attorneys to go back and forth, there is also a risk that a dispute over personal property could derail your overall settlement efforts. If there is truly no chance of resolving these issues between yourselves, one possible alternative is to enlist a neutral person to mediate or arbitrate the dispute separate from the main divorce case itself.
Second, what you paid for something does not necessarily represent current fair market value. You could pay a professional to appraise the personal property but this is a costly, and at times very subjective, undertaking. Instead, one possible way of approaching it is to figure out what you could get for an item at a yard sale.
Third, be mindful of the ongoing living arrangements. For example, if the children are going to be living primarily with one parent, it probably makes sense that the bulk of the children’s items remain with that parent. Or, if one party is retaining the marital home, it would probably make sense that this same party retain the major household appliances.
Fourth, be mindful of debt considerations. For example, if a television was purchased from a store on credit, and one person is solely responsible to payback this debt obligation, then it would make sense that this same person retain the item purchased.
Fifth, at the end of the day you are really talking about stuff. It is recognized that there very well may be sentimental attachment to certain items. However, before you head to war over the entertainment center, please remember that the best policy is to make smart business decisions rather than emotional ones.
All of the attorneys at Domers & Bonamassa are well versed and have years of experience addressing family law issues, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at (856) 596-2888 for a private consultation. We appear in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May. Our practice areas include: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, domestic violence, college expenses, equitable distribution, name changes, step parent adoptions, paternity issues, child abuse and neglect, prenuptial agreements, mediation and arbitration.
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