When you think about divorce, you probably think about all the normal things that you and your soon-to-be-former spouse must split up: time with the kids, money, the house, and the bills. But you also have to decide how to divide your personal property. Whether it’s something as big as an expensive television or as small as box of old books, everything will need a home with one of you or the other. It can seem overwhelming at first, since up until now you and your spouse have been spending time filling up your home with various items. But here are a few things to think about as you tackle the problem.
Work with Each Other: Yes, you’re getting ready to go your separate ways, and you probably aren’t getting along all that well right now. But that doesn’t mean that you have to argue about who gets a spatula. See what items the two of you can agree on before you head to court. This will save you some hassle as well as money, since it means there will be less time that an attorney has to work on your case.
Be Reasonable: This sounds pretty obvious, but many times people allow their hurt feelings over a failed marriage to affect them. Did your husband’s grandmother give him that quilt? Then let him have it. Does that set of dishes hold sentimental value for your wife? You can buy another one. Practicality also goes a long way here. If you have two sets of linens, for example, then it makes sense to split them. If one of you is moving to an apartment that includes lawn maintenance, then that spouse doesn’t need the lawnmower or the weed trimmer.
Take Inventory: Make lists or take pictures so you know what you’re dealing with. If you and your spouse have already agreed on some items, this will help your attorneys understand which items you have already divided and which ones still need to be hashed out in court. Taking inventory of your possessions will also help you realize which items are most and least important to you.
Appraise Big-Ticket Items: If there are valuable items that the two of you simply cannot agree on, it could be beneficial to have them appraised. Remember that its appraisal value, resale value, and replacement value are not all necessarily the same. Check with your attorney regarding picking an appraiser and who should pay for it.
Pick Your Battles: It may be tempting to argue for items simply to aggravate your estranged spouse, but this will only make things worse between the two of you. Instead, think about how much a particular item will matter to you six months or a year from now. If it isn’t something that you have great emotional attachment to or that you need, consider letting it go.
Overall, combing through your household and splitting your assets doesn’t have to be a difficult project if the two of you can work together, even for just a short time. The attorneys and the court systems are there to help you, but there’s no point in dragging the proceedings out over the little things. Try to keep a good balance between your emotions and your economic interests. Consider each other’s feelings, and only fight for the items that really mean a lot to you.