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Tips for dividing personal property in a divorce

One of the most difficult aspects of divorcing is dividing property. And it's not just the division of major assets that can cause heated disputes. Often, divorcing spouses fight over personal property, including items with little or no value.

However, there are ways to make this process a little easier.

Identifying personal property

Start by making a list of your personal property. You can do this by looking around you and seeing what you have acquired or purchased during your marriage. Your personal property might include:

  • Computers, TVs, tablets and other electronic devices
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Cars and other vehicles
  • Collections (coin, action figure, china, etc.)
  • Clothing
  • Housing decor
  • Jewelry

Deciding what to do with it

In general, one of three things will happen to each piece of property: one of you will keep it, you will sell it or you will give it away. Categorize each item and then review the plan to determine if the division is equitable. If there are specific items you want to keep, then make a note and be prepared to negotiate with your ex. 

Keeping the process fair

During this process, claims of deceit or theft might arise, especially if one of you stays in the house with all the property while the other person may be living elsewhere. To avoid this and settle arguments, take photos of the property and keep detailed records of values and sale prices. This can prevent one party from taking something without permission or wrongfully retaining profits from the sale of something.

Keeping some perspective

When you are dealing with individual items, especially those that might have sentimental value, you can get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the ultimate goal: to divide property fairly. If you get into a difficult spot, stop and think about your life a year from now and consider whether the source of a particular dispute will be valuable at that point. 

Getting help throughout this process

It is also important to understand that you do not have to navigate the property division process alone. You can work with appraisers and other professionals to help you value and sell property. And you can always work with your attorney to find a solution if serious issues or disputes arise.

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