Personal Property – Is It Worth the Fight?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-divorce-papers-image25772703A lot of parties that are divorcing are very concerned about dividing up their personal property.  They are concerned about who will take which items from their marital home upon divorce, including, but not limited to: furniture, fixtures, electronics, vehicles, clothing, handbags, jewelry, luggage, kitchen items, appliances, Blu-Ray/DVD’s, and the like.  A person going through a divorce often asks me when the right time is to divide these belongings and how they should be allocated amongst the parties.

I, along with many other divorce attorneys with whom I have had cases with, usually tell the clients to figure out how to divide these items amongst themselves.  The bottom line is that the parties can fight all day over who will get which item of personal property, but for the most part, it is not cost effective to fight over these items.  In theory, you could spend much more than the purchase price of a flat screen TV fighting over a flat screen TV if both you and your spouse are each paying an attorney to fight over it.  Cost-effectiveness is one of the reasons why parties are encouraged to work out personal property issues on their own.

The other reason that parties are often encouraged to work out personal property division issues on their own is due to how most courts will deal with disputed personal property.  If parties are arguing about who is going to obtain what from their home and cannot come to a resolution, Judges become agitated.  Most Judges, in my experiences, will recommend a garage sale is held and that all personal property for which there is a dispute, is sold, down to the last sock, and that the proceeds are divided equally.  This also goes for pets, in most cases, in Illinois, as they are treated as personal property and not as “children” over whom you can obtain custody.

The bottom line is that no matter how much you and your spouse disagree, it really is not worth the wasted time or effort to divide personal property.  If the property is worth significant value, is a family heirloom or non-marital property, exceptions can be made, but for the most part, parties should divide their personal property on their own without involving their respective attorneys.

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