When to Seek Help Dividing Up Household Items in a Divorce

By The Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC on March 10, 2015

NY DivorceDuring a New York divorce, you and your spouse will be faced with the task of dividing up your marital property in an “equitable” fashion. Marital property includes big ticket items like bank accounts, stock accounts, retirement accounts, businesses, real property and the like. “Equitable” may not always mean “equal,” but an equitable distribution of assets and debts should be fair to both parties.

Dividing up your marital property includes deciding who will take which items of personal property from the household. This is not always easy, especially when you or your spouse find you have an emotional attachment to certain items.

Most experienced New York divorce lawyers recommend that spouses figure out how to divide their household items without taking the issue to court. Often, the value of the goods is less than the cost involved with going to trial, meaning that it would be cheaper simply to buy new items than to go to court over the existing ones. Also, in court, the spouses have no control over how the judge decides to split household items – and the resulting division may be one neither spouse likes.

There are several methods that can be utilized to try and settle the issue, including each party making a list of desired items, exchanging lists and then negotiating; each party taking a turn choosing items to keep; and the parties negotiating value as to the items, dividing the items and then figuring out the amount or offset value for the division of personal property to be paid from one party to the other.

In some cases, however, seeking help from your lawyer or mediation of the issue to discuss certain household items may be a good idea. Here’s when to seek help dividing up your household goods:

  • You’ve reduced the list to a few key items. Arguing over every piece of flatware or holiday knickknack is likely to be too costly and will cause excessive frustration. If you and your spouse are stuck on a specific item or items, discussing them with your lawyer or mediator may help.
  • The items in question have significant value. Many household items, including collectibles and electronics, are less valuable than most couples think. But antiques, paintings, vehicles, and similar objects may have significant value. The more valuable an item is, the more important it is to seek your attorney’s input before making a decision.
  • You don’t know how valuable an item really is. In some cases, spouses will let certain items go because they don’t understand the true value. For instance, many tools are more valuable than they appear, as are many sets of silver, crystal, or china. Make sure you and your lawyer appraise any items you’re not certain about.

One thing is certain, issues revolving around personal property in a divorce can be a large waste of valuable time, and parties are well served to try and negotiate a reasonable outcome, while saving their resources to determine the outcome of the more valuable marital assets that are in need of equitable distribution.

To learn more about the division of marital assets process in a NY divorce, please contact the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC today.

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