splitting personal propertyIn a divorce, fairly dividing the relatively small value items of personal property (all that junk in the house) is an area where the legal system often performs poorly. Oftentimes, the monetary value of these items doesn’t justify the legal costs incurred in their retrieval. In Court, the division of these types of items is usually the last thing to be addressed. Every attorney has a horror story to tell about the case where many torturous hours were spent between two litigants arguing over every small piece of furniture, silverware and tools.

A spouse who is no longer residing in the marital home (either because they voluntarily left or they were put out by the Court) is at a distinct disadvantage in identifying, dividing and retrieving these types of items. If you can divide these small items between yourself and your spouse without the involvement of the Courts you will save a great deal of expense and hassle. If you cannot do this on your own, start by preparing a complete and comprehensive list of everything that you want to get back. Don’t wait to go to Court. Show that you are serious about retrieving these items and that this is important to you by having your attorney forward the list to your spouse’s attorney before you go to Court. Don’t wait for the last minute and be faced with a decision as to whether to settle the case or fight for the bed! Also, don’t tie up valuable attorney time by wasting time on low value items.

Be flexible and be willing to trade-off different items. Don’t ask for all the televisions in the house – but try to get at least one. Try to get something in each class of item – a vcr, a stereo, a dvd player, some silverware, plates, etc. This way you won’t have to start from scratch. The same with furniture – divide it room by room. If you don’t have space for an item or it will be difficult to move, seriously consider whether you really want it back. Do you really need a lawnmower and garden tools when you’re moving into an apartment? If you are not allowed back in the house because of a restraining order – ask to inventory the items in advance in the company of a police officer (called a detail – and be prepared for a cost – usually a minimum of 3-4 hours). If you have pictures with sentimental value to divide and cannot agree, offer to split the costs of making a second set (this is usually what judges will do anyway). Decide what you really need and what you can live without. Lastly, seize the opportunity to reduce the clutter in your life and get a fresh start!

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DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. The use of this Blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the Law Offices of Barry R. Lewis. If you are considering divorce or if you are involved in any legal matter, you should hire an attorney.

Massachusetts Divorce and Family Law
Attorney Barry R. Lewis — Divorce Law Specialist
Locations Throughout Eastern & Central Massachusetts :: 508-879-3262