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How do we divide personal property in a divorce?

Dividing marital property is commonly one of the most complicated steps in a divorce. And although people often expect high-value assets like a house to be the main source of contention, the fact is that all property can trigger arguments.

For instance, consider your personal property. Think about your furniture, clothing, appliances, dishes, jewelry and electronic devices. During a divorce, you must determine what happens to these items, so it can be helpful to know what to expect and how to minimize conflict.

Itemizing and valuing the property

When dividing personal property, it is essential to be organized. Create a list of everything in your home, garage and car. It can help to use a home inventory checklist people often use for insurance purposes.

Once you have a list of everything, you can assign estimated values. To get an idea of what something costs, look it up on resale sites like eBay or Craigslist. Keep in mind that the value of an item is generally going to be less than what you paid for it.

If you are unsure what the value is or you have a unique item, you might consider consulting a professional appraiser.

Dividing personal property

When you know what you have and a general idea of all the values, you can make decisions on how to divide everything.

Broadly, you can do one of five things with your property:

  1. You keep it.
  2. The other person keeps it.
  3. You sell it.
  4. You donate it.
  5. You throw it away.

Go through your list and decide what you want to do with each item. If a dispute arises, you can resolve it by flipping a coin, speaking with a mediator, or using some other method on which you can both agree.

Keep in mind that the distribution should be equitable. You don’t need everything to be exactly equal, but between the value of everything you keep and the profits of what you sell, you should wind up with a fair balance.

Pick your battles

Considering how much personal property you may have, it can be easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of the big picture. Try to remember to pick your battles; the items you are dividing can often be replaced. But being able to work out a solution quickly and peacefully can be priceless.