Divorces are rarely done in a smooth and easy manner. Years of emotion, love, and growth turned into hatred, frustration, and pain; it makes for a tough time and an even more difficult time to try and settle the finances and personal belongings. If you have recently started the process of initiating a divorce, you’ve probably come across the issue of determining who get what in regards to belongings and finances, and this isn’t a situation that you can sweep under the rug and pretend it doesn’t need to be dealt with.
At O’Brien & Wood Law, we have the knowledge and experience to help couples going through a divorce make it through rough patches like these. Our blog today will dive into the best way to start dividing the items that you have in your house and what to take into consideration when doing so.
Type of Property
The first thing that we need to take into consideration is what types of possessions you’re dealing with, given that each one will be handled differently. The main ones that you’ll have to sort through are personal properties, shared properties, and emotional properties. We’ll dive a little deeper into these below.
Personal properties are defined as belongings that are exclusively belonging to one individual. In this scenario, this will be any of your personal belongings that you brought to the marriage and anything that you purchased fully. This will also go for any items that are fully in one person’s name or it is given that they were theirs before the relationship.
These types of properties are often difficult to separate because they take into consideration both parties financial interest and usually amount to the most money. Two of the most common areas that we see this in is in the house and the car of the family. More often than not, these types of items require more than one signer to purchase, but they also have varying amounts of money from each party contributed to the payment. These types of cases are some of the most challenging ones to sort out on your own, so skip that step entirely and allow for a professional to take the reigns.
Now, this specific type of property is extremely difficult to get an exact definition of, mostly because it truly does differ for everyone. The best example that we can give here is pets or items that are unique and special to the house. These are also items that take some time to separate just because they are so difficult to really put a value or ownership title on.
Now that you have a general idea of what types of properties you’ll come across, let’s dive into the different ways that you’ll go through these types of properties in order to determine who gets them at the end of the divorce.
We covered a few of the most common types of property above, and each one will be separated with different things taken into consideration, which is what we’re going to visit in this next portion of our blog.
Step 1: List Properties Out
The first thing that you’re going to want to do, regardless of the type of property that you’re dealing with, will be to list out all of the items that you need to separate. Even if it’s very obvious who will be getting it, make sure that you write it out and list it so that it is a written agreement in the case that you do need to go to case. At that point, you can also appraise some of the items that you have on the list that is not immediately suspected to go to one person.
In the case that there are items that you know will need to go together, make sure to list them on the list together so that there is no confusion as they are split up. This should also help get a better appraisal of each item and give a better idea of who is getting what in regards to both items and prices.
Step 2: Use Some Logic
As you go through and try to separate the items that you’ve put on your list, really put some thought and logic into what makes the most sense with who is getting what. There are times where there is truly one individual that will make more sense when it comes to owning the process.
In just about every case there will still be items that people can’t separate fairly. When these types of things come up, you can turn to methods like flipping a coin to determine who is getting things. This isn’t a foolproof way, but it is a method that takes away the stress of having to determine who is the better fit and what makes the most sense.
With items that are controversial, but were purchased by one person specifically, the item immediately becomes theirs. Another one of the things that you can take into consideration when separating items is that if you were the one to purchase an item and give it as a gift, you can still keep the item. In the case that you purchase an item together, the best practice is to pay the other half out. This goes for all items that were purchased together. If one party paid more than the other, then the other party will have to pay out the remaining bit that they would owe in order to have fully purchased the product.
Step 3: Emotional Property
The emotional property is where we see most couples struggle to find an agreement that all are happy with. The most common way that we see this go down is with pets, and that makes sense. When pets have to be determined above, it’s always better for the couple to do their best to try and take this decision into their hands and leave it out of the court’s hands.
When it’s being decided upon, couples should try to think about what it is that would be the best for their pet. If there are children in the mix, this should also be taken into consideration because at that point it will also be affecting their life. It can also come down to the cost of owning and caring for a pet, the time that they need to be cared for, the space that they need to live comfortably, and so plenty more.
Even with items that aren’t pets, but are emotional property, it is best for you and your partner to work through the decision of who will get the property at the end of the divorce. Truth be told, while differences may be evident in your relationship, you two are the only ones that understand the value of these items so it only makes sense that you are the ones that make the decision in where they go. There can be assistance, however, if you guys are struggling to determine who should wind up with the property.
Step 4: Get it Approved
The step that you’re really going to need a legal professional that you trust will be at the point where you get this agreement approved by both parties lawyer. This is crucial to finalizing the agreement and ensuring that moving forward, there is no disagreement or argument in regards to the items that were split up.
If you guys are truly comfortable with the way things have been split up, it should be pretty easy, but when there are issues or disagreements on how items will be split up, you may need to set up a mediation event with both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and both lawyers. At this point, we can work through the issues and items and come to an agreement on how to best divvy up the items so that everyone is at least okay with the outcome.
The judge, for the most part, will agree upon any type of agreement that both parties are happy with, but in the case that there is a party that has more than the other, and does not have a lawyer, the judge may intervene and ask some questions just to ensure that all parties are being taken care of fairly and that there truly is full agreement on the choices that have been made.
This process is much more complicated than the points that we mentioned above, so remember that while you may find some clarity in this blog post, it isn’t everything that you need to really get the issue of your belongings taken care of.
In order to truly take care of your belongings and get them separated the right way, you’re going to need legal assistance. Contact O’Brien & Wood Law and schedule a consultation for your case. We can dig deeper into your belongings and finances and determine just what needs to be done in order for you to be taken care of for good. Contact us today and we’ll schedule your consultation as soon as possible.