Personal Property

Even couples who are on relatively good terms and cooperative during a divorce almost always find a few pieces of property to fight over. More often then not, it is not the individual piece of property that is important by itself, but it ends up representing the frustrations of a relationship that failed. In the event that the parties truly cannot resolve a dispute over personal property, a judge will do it for them, but that is not a cost-effective way of resolving the issue. If the judge becomes involved, he or she will consider the same factors discussed in the section on dividing marital or community property. Furthermore, the judge may consider who acquired the property, who uses the property, and whether the property has any particular connection to the original family of one spouse.

If a couple is having a hard time dividing personal property, they might consider some techniques that have been used by others.  They could prepare a list of all the property in dispute. One spouse can take that list and divide it into two separate lists. Then the other spouse can choose which of the two lists to take as his or her property. In this method, the spouse who created the two lists has an incentive to prepare an equal division of property.

Another option, which uses a single list of the disputed property, is to flip of a coin or other method; one spouse chooses the first piece of property and then the other chooses, alternating until all the property is divided. Another variation of this approach would be to have a series of lists from which the spouses take turns, one list at a time. The lists would be divided by the economic value or sentimental value of the items.