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Episode 37 Transcript: Dividing Your "Stuff" After Divorce

Today’s mini episode is on dividing your stuff. And by that, I mean dividing the things, what we might call the tangible personal property, that are located, typically, in your home (also maybe in a storage container). But, you know, your furniture, your artwork, your – you will often will not divide your clothing, but anyway, all the things that are yours.

And a lot of people have the concern at the outset of a divorce that they’re going to have to do an exhaustive inventory of every single thing that they have in their home and assign it to one person or the other. And generally speaking, that is just not necessary.

The approach that most people take is basically to agree informally outside the legal process on who’s keeping what, and then to use the legal process, whether it be in mediation or through their attorneys, to resolve only those items that they cannot agree to.

And I would add one thing to that, which is that where there are items of large value, sometimes, it is a good idea to speak about it specifically in your agreement, even if you’ve agreed about them and it’s clear that, you know, this spouse is keeping the Van Gogh painting and this spouse is keeping the Rothko. Well, if they are that valuable, I would speak to them explicitly in your agreement, just so that it’s completely clear.

But for most people, they are just working together informally out of whatever legal process to divide their stuff between them. And generally, the contracts that you end up signing, your separation agreement, your divorce agreement, is not going to require you to itemize every single thing that every person kept with them or took to their new apartment or their new home, so long as you’re both okay with how the division went.

Another tactic or tool that people will use if they are anticipating a lot of disagreement about how to divide their personal property is to flip a coin, have one person go first, and then basically rotate between them and say, “I would like to keep this. Okay, your turn. You would like to keep that.” And then, basically, go through your stuff in that way. It’s a little more laborious but, you know, it’s certainly better than fighting over your personal property in court and there’s really no reason to do that. You can – with the help of a mediator or your attorneys – you can find a way to resolve the division of your stuff outside of the court system.

This was our mini episode on Dividing Your Stuff in Divorce. I hope it was helpful for you.

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