At some point during a divorce, every couple has to go through the somewhat tedious (and stressful) process of dividing up their shared accumulations. Knowing where to start — and how to be smart about it — can save you both a lot of frustration and legal fees.
Here are some suggestions about how to divide your household items wisely:
1. Segregate your personal property.
There may be numerous personal items that you and your spouse can agree to split without debate. For example, if your spouse gifted you with a signed lithograph of your favorite Disney character for your birthday, you may both easily agree that’s your personal property. Similarly, you may easily agree that the pool table is really your spouse’s because they’re the only one who enjoys playing.
2. Group and list what remains.
You can’t begin to divide the remaining things up fairly until you have a list of everything. As you make your list, agree to group some items together whenever it makes sense. Bedroom sets, for example, shouldn’t be broken up.
3. Sort items according to your individual priorities.
Once you have the list, you can each circle what you want. Any items that you don’t both circle can be quickly divided (and anything neither of you want can be disposed of or sold). Only the items you both want ultimately have to be part of a negotiated divide.
4. Take turns choosing among the disputed items.
This is one simple method of dividing up your household goods. You simply agree who gets to start, then that person picks an item off the disputed list. Then, the other person takes a turn. This forces both parties to focus on the items that are most important to them.
5. Set any items that can’t be divided this way aside.
Maybe there’s a special painting that could be valuable or an antique chest of drawers that you want appraised before you agree to let your spouse have it. Maybe there are one or two sentimental items that you both simply want and can’t agree to divide. Set those aside for further consideration after you’ve had time to think about your options.
If you’re at an impasse with your spouse over your division of property, make sure that you have experienced legal assistance by your side.