By: Tasya Rivera Martin
Dividing up personal property can be a drag and can often be a way to unnecessarily increase your attorney’s fees. The more amicably you and your spouse can divvy up your possessions, the better. It is best not to wait until the very end of your dissolution process. Here are some practical tips to making this part of your dissolution less costly and less stressful:
- Start by talking to your spouse and seeing if the two of you can divide up the small items between yourselves without the involvement of attorneys.
- If one spouse is already out of the marital homestead, attempt to schedule a time for the party not occupying the home to walk through the homestead and sit down together and create a full inventory of your household items available for division. This allows you both to get an idea of what you have and what is up for grabs. Once you have created your inventory, add additional columns for you and your spouse to identify who gets what. Each of you can fill out your own division and then you can compare to identify which items are still in dispute. It is also helpful to take pictures while creating your inventory.
- Remember that items in your home are now worth far less than their actual purchase price. So for example, if you recently purchased a new dining room table for $2,000, you may only be able to sell it at a garage sale for $500, or less. If you and your spouse cannot agree on the value of particular items, you can retain a neutral personal property appraiser to appraise the disputed items.
- Compromise and be flexible with your spouse. Try not to get hung up on keeping an item as a matter of principle. Try not to waste time and potential attorney’s fees on a simple item such as a toaster which will cost less to buy new than in attorney’s fees fighting over it.
- Decide what you really want and what you can live without. Think about the fact that you will be starting a new chapter in your life and use this opportunity as another way to start fresh.
- When it comes to old family photos, be reasonable and offer to split the photos, or make copies so that both of you can retain the memories.
- If you have children, remember that the children will likely be going back and forth between the parties’ homes and it may be necessary that you both have a full set of children’s items such as clothing, shoes, winter accessories, school supplies, books, toys, toiletries, etc.
- If after reasonable attempts to divide personal property, you and your spouse are unsuccessful, submit the disputed items to binding arbitration. You do not need an attorney to be involved in the arbitration process.