How are household items divided in a divorce?
The things that seem most important to your attorney – the household home, bank accounts, savings and retirement, and larger assets – sometimes take a back seat when our client and their spouse cannot agree over how the smaller, household items will be divided.
There may be disputes over personal possessions, furniture, or other items that have deep personal value to our client regardless of their monetary value. Who decides which spouse gets what and how much?
In most cases, these problems should be resolved early in the process. When clients have not already reached an agreement with their spouse about who keeps which household items, it can be resolved through negotiations with the other side, mediation, temporary hearing, or trial.
If you are considering separation or divorce, call or email your Myrtle Beach divorce attorney at Axelrod and Associates immediately to find out what your options are and how to protect your property.
How are Household Items Divided in a Divorce?
How are your household items divided in a divorce? Hopefully, they will be divided through mutual agreement of the parties. If there is not already an agreement in place, your attorney can help you by negotiating with the other side, including the division of personal property in your separation agreement, getting a temporary order from the court that approves the property division, or by deciding the issue in mediation.
Your Personal Possessions
Your personal possessions are not usually a sticking point in a divorce – your clothing, household items that are used only by you, gifts that were given exclusively to you, and items that you inherited should be safe from division.
But, when your spouse disputes ownership of a household item, or when the household item is valuable and your spouse thinks it should be subject to equitable division, we may need to negotiate with the other side (or litigate) to ensure that your spouse is not taking the things that you believe are rightfully yours.
Shared household items like furniture, kitchen items, keepsakes, and decorations will most likely be subject to equitable distribution, however, and an agreement must be reached as to who take which items from the household.
If both sides want the same items and refuse to budge, how are household items divided in a divorce?
Determining the Value of Household Items Divided in a Divorce
When the parties cannot agree as to who will take which household items, we may have to determine the value of each item, prioritize which items are most important to you (and which are most important to your spouse), and negotiate a fair resolution with your spouse – you may have to let some things go, just as your spouse may have to let some things go, to get the things that are most important to you.
What are the Items Worth?
How do you determine the value of household items? Most will be used items, but a dollar value can easily be assigned. Other times, we may need to get an item or collection of items appraised to determine their true value – for example, the value of fine china, works of art, or musical instruments may not be easily determined without asking an expert.
Other items may have extraordinary value to you (or your spouse) as a keepsake or memory, regardless of their monetary value. In these cases, you (or your spouse) may choose to let go of some items that have a greater monetary value because the emotional value of the item is more important.
Negotiating the Division of Household Items
You may need to prioritize the household items that are most important to you, whether for monetary or emotional reasons.
If the division of household items is not agreed upon, your attorney can help you to find a reasonable split by identifying your goals and which possessions are most important to you and then negotiating with your spouse or their attorney to find the middle ground.
What are the most important items that you must keep and what are you willing to give up to keep them? What are the most important items that your spouse must keep and what are they willing to give up to keep them?
Ideally, you will reach an agreement where you keep most of the items that are most important to you, your spouse keeps most of the items that are most important to them, and the monetary value is roughly equal.
When the parties can’t reach an agreement and their attorneys are unable to help, mediation may be the answer.
Mediation is mandatory for a SC divorce when any issue is contested – the family courts do not want to divide your personal property (or decide any issues) unless it is necessary, so they force you to go to mandatory mediation and – hopefully – resolve all outstanding issues before you arrive in court for your final divorce hearing.
If negotiations and mediation fail, the family court will divide your personal property at trial (or a temporary hearing).
The drawback to having the court decide issues like the division of property is that you may not like what you get. Your judge probably feels like you should have worked these things out before you arrived in court, and may not have much patience with what they consider minor issues like how to divide your household possessions…
In many cases, our clients have already decided how to dispose of household possessions before they even meet with us. When there are special considerations (or a difficult spouse), the question of how to divide household items in the divorce can almost always be resolved by negotiations or mediation before the final hearing.
Your SC divorce lawyer on the Axelrod team understands that, sometimes, the little things can be the most important. When necessary, we will negotiate, fight for, and litigate to protect your rights and your property in your divorce proceedings.