There are different ways to divide household items if you are going through a mediated divorce. The method you choose may be directly related to the level of conflict you are experiencing within your divorce process. You may need a lot of detail with itemized lists including values of items, if you are having difficulty agreeing in general, or at the other end of the spectrum, you may not need any list at all and will just divide items by mutual agreement. Think of this division on a continuum; from little to no detail all the way up to itemization by room. Every situation is different and based on the parties involved, requires a different system for divide up household items.
Here are common ways people may decide to divide household contents:
- Make a list, have an appraisal done (agree in advance to accept the appraisers values), then pick what each of you want to take. You may need to determine who gets the first pick and then agree to alternate turns. If values of items are important to your bottom line, you will want to keep track of the totals for each person. Appraisers charge for this service and you will need to know this in advance and agree on how that cost will be handled between the two of you.
- Decide to value and appraise only larger valued items in your home. This is a smaller scale appraisal for items you may be in disagreement about. You can value the items each of you are taking and offset with other assets if needed, as part of your overall process. All other items can be divided by agreement if you are able to do so (ex. kitchen items, linens, small furniture, etc.).
- Divide all items by agreement. You may choose to value those items or not.
If one of you is keeping the marital residence and it makes sense for the majority of the household items to stay in the home, this can be discussed as well and offset with an agreed to lump sum value for all the items staying in the home. This will allow the person moving out additional assets to purchase things needed for their new residence. It is important to be realistic about pricing when setting values on items.
- Photos, wedding gifts, holiday ornaments, family heirlooms – any of these items hold emotional and sentimental value. Divide them up accordingly. Normally items given by a person’s family or friends will stay with that person. Photos can be shared digitally or you may choose to make copy’s.
- Children’s things – Allowing the Children to keep their things based on where they will be spending their time keeps things consistent for them. In a shared residency situation, parents should consider dividing items so the Children will have items of their own at each residence.
These are suggestions for dividing household items and certainly not the only options available to couples. Choose a method that will work best for your situation. Discuss these options and any other options you think will work for your situation with your mediator. He or she may have other ideas for you to consider.
If you have chosen mediation as your process option of your divorce, the chances are great that you have already decided to work cooperatively together to reach agreements in all areas. Household items and their division is an area where you can decide together how much detail you both need to move forward.
For more information on the mediation process and the many benefits of mediation, please contact The Mediation Center at 585-269-8140.