How are household items divided in a divorce?

Family disputes can be a common occurrence, sometimes these conflicts can even lead to a divorce. In these situations, problems can arise when partners who separate have children and shared property.

Most divorcing couples also have a large number of household items and miscellaneous goods, which they have amassed during their marriage.

But what items need to be split and how are these items divided up?

Items to be divided up

There are a large number of items from around the house that you will need to consider when dividing up items in a divorce. These include:

  • Furniture and white goods (ie fridge, washing machine etc)
  • Jewellery and valuable paintings
  • Books, CD collections, digital media assets (eg downloaded movies)
  • Electronic goods (eg computers, TVs, games consoles, stereo systems)
  • Miscellaneous household goods (eg kitchen utensils)
  • Clothing
  • Fittings and fixtures
  • Pets and vehicles (although not household ‘goods’ these are both classed as chattels)

On top of this any gifts that the party has received, such as wedding gifts, will need to be divided up equally.

How are items divided up?

The law has very little to say specifically about how to divide up personal belongings upon divorce.

However, the general legal principle is that any assets which have been acquired or built up during the marriage are added to the matrimonial pot and divided up equally.

If an item was previously owned by one of the parties before the marriage began then the courts may decide to exclude these, depending on the length of a marriage and whether these assets were enjoyed by both parties or kept separately.

What if there are disputes over items?

When both parties have benefitted from the use of a sentimental or valuable item throughout the marriage there will likely be a dispute over who will keep the item.

In situations like this, mediation can be the best solution as an alternative to a draining court battle. It gives the opportunity to discuss practical matters such as your finances or children, in a neutral setting.

Couples turn to mediation once the relationship has broken down – not to get back together – but to sort out the practicalities of a separation or divorce, without a bitter court battle.

Issues including living arrangements, child maintenance, property and savings will often be discussed in the sessions, which typically take between three and five sessions depending on the complexity of the issues between the two separating individuals.

As well as minimising the legal and court costs, mediation will also allow you to retain to control of the separation process and make cool-headed objective decisions that are right for you.

If you would like to find out if mediation is right for you or you would like more information contact a member of our team today.