Your household items are more than just things. They can represent memories, history, and even the marriage itself. Some people can say, “it’s just stuff,” and move forward. Others may not want physical reminders of their spouse going forward. However, many couples find dividing household items to be one of the most emotionally challenging facets of property division.
Here’s what you need to know to make that process easier and simpler.
Household Items Are Community Property
With some exceptions, your household items and physical possessions are community property. Tally up what all of those items are worth and divide that in half. Unless you and your spouse come to a different agreement, that’s what you’re entitled to in your divorce.
Simplifying The Job
If you and your spouse no longer own something, you don’t have to figure out who will get it in the divorce. Instead of spending time in mediation trying to reach an agreement over an item, you could:
- Give the item to one of your children
- Sell the item and agree to split the money
- Donate the item to charity and take the tax write-off
Agreeing that each of you will keep your clothing, jewelry, grooming items, and other personal effects will also take a great deal off your plate.
Certain things, like photos and family videos, can be copied so you can both keep them.
Should You Hire An Appraiser?
The value of an item will be what you could get if you sold it, not what you paid for it, and not what it would cost to replace it. It’s possible to do research and find all of that information on your own.
To get an accurate value and reach an agreement with your spouse, you should:
- Have three quotes for the price from three different sources
- Use the same three sources for all items of the same type
- Take an average of those three prices
If all of that sounds like a lot of hassle, you could consider hiring an appraiser. An appraiser typically charges $250-$600.
- Decide how you will divide the cost of the appraiser
- Agree on the appraiser before hiring them
- Agree that you will both respect the judgments of that appraiser before they arrive to evaluate your items.
Items of sentimental value.
Some items become contentious not because of their dollar value, but because they have sentimental value.
Wedding gifts — By law, wedding gifts belong to you both. However, many couples decide to have each spouse keep the gifts given by their friends and family.
Children’s Things — It’s best to think of your children’s thing as belonging to them.
Souvenirs — Souvenirs from trips can also hold sentimental value. If possible, divide these between spouses. For example, you might have a mug and a shot glass. Each spouse should take half the souvenirs overall, and at least one from each trip. If there are many trips from which you have only one souvenir, give them each a number, and flip a coin to see who goes first. The spouse who gets “heads” takes all the odd-numbered souvenirs, and the other spouse takes the even-numbered ones.
Take The Rest To You Mediator
After you’ve made as many decisions as you can on your own, you can bring up the more difficult problems with your mediator. They can take what you and your spouse propose as solutions and help you reach a compromise that works for both of you.