There is no greater waste of money in a divorce than fighting over division of small personal property owned by a couple. The attorney fees spent to argue over beds, sofas, kitchen table, tvs, and other household items usually exceed the value of the items. A dining room set purchased for $5,000.00 may be valued in a divorce at $300.00. As used furniture, the set may only be sold at a garage sale. Most household furniture is valued based upon what can be realized for the asset at a garage sale. It is simply cheaper to go out and buy an equivalent item than to pay attorneys to fight over it. Of course, higher value items such as house, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and collections are worth the cost of paying for appraisers and attorneys. I suggest that the parties approach division of household items with consideration of the following issues.
If there are children, the children should be given priority. The children’s furniture should remain with the parent who has more parenting time than the other. The rest of the furniture in the house should also take into account the children. If there is only one tv it should remain in the house with the children. If there are two tvs then the parent with the children should get the better tv.
Most households currently have a car for each parent. Unless a car is a collector’s item, each party needs a car to function in today’s society. In almost all cases, judges award the cars to the party who primarily drove each car prior to separation. Cars are generally viewed as a necessary tool and not as an asset.
Both parents should try to be fair about division of household items. Any unfairness is usually met with a large increase in attorney fees. The problem is that the parent who doesn’t get the household items needs to go out and purchase new items. The need to make such purchases as well as a rental security deposit and last month rent should be recognized and money should be set aside for these expenses. Treating each other fairly means that both parents end up with adequate furniture and living arrangements. This can be accomplished by possession of existing items or money to buy replacement items.
Parties need to identify items of sentimental value to the two parties and cooperate to allocate the sentimental items to the appropriate party. Family heirlooms should go to the party who broguht the item into the marriage. Again, the countervailing value is money set aside to purchase a replacement item.
Items that are only used by one party should be offered to that party. A riding lawn mower that had been used exclusively by the husband may never be used by the wife who intends to hire a service to mow the lawn. If the wife sells the mower without the husband’s permission it will be a violation of the automatic restraining order and have the effect of a declaration of war that will cause the husband to fight over trivial matters. Giving the husband opportunity to take the mower or have both parties sell the mower and divide the proceeds will result in a better attitude from both parties.
Pictures and videos are frequently the subject of litigation. It will save money if the parties pay to have the pictures duplicated so that each party can have a set. Sometimes the parties will agree to purchase a scanner so that one party can copy all pictures and give the originals to the other.
Division of personal property can be a huge drain of financial resources if the parties choose to fight over the assets. This large expense is seldom worth the money required to have the judge resolve the division. An experienced divorce attorney should be consulted to learn how the law applies to your case and to look for an inexpensive logical solution to property division.