How are personal and household items divided up in a divorce?
Posted on 23rd June 2021
As the value of luxury items has significantly increased in recent months, largely to do with people changing spending habits during lockdown, so too have subsequent disputes over luxury goods in divorce proceedings.
It’s definitely nothing new to see couples dispute over assets such as property, cars, artwork, or even pets. However, other personal assets such as designer handbags, shoes, and watches, have become commonplace in divorce financial disputes recently.
With this in mind, our expert family solicitors weigh in on the increase, and discuss the legal standpoint of personal assets in a divorce.
What kinds of personal assets are included in divorce proceedings?
Generally speaking, family courts have always tried as hard as possible to keep out of any disputes between couples regarding personal possessions and assets. These items are generally known as ‘chattels’ in the family law world, and can consist of huge amounts of items in some longer marriages where the couple have amassed most of their goods while married.
While they are often not addressed directly by family courts, this does not mean that the process of dividing personal goods and miscellaneous is not important, as there can often be huge sums of money tied up in collectable items or designer goods.
How should personal assets and designer goods be divided?
The legality of dividing up the personal belongings of a couple during a divorce is not as set in stone as many people often think. Still, the general principle is that all personal goods that have been acquired during the time of their marriage should be divided 50/50 between the two parties involved in the divorce.
When it comes to goods that were bought and obtained before the marriage began, these will, most of the time, be excluded from the matrimonial pot by the courts. This is normally the case, but is not always how it goes. It will also depend on how long the marriage lasted, and how much the items were used by both members of the couple throughout the marriage.
For example, family heirlooms of one party that have been kept safe and unused throughout the marriage will nearly always be removed from the matrimonial pot, as there is no reason that the other party should have any ownership over them. However, other items, such as household furniture, could still be considered as community property even if they were purchases by one party before the marriage began. It is generally determined by who has used the items the most and to whom they hold the most personal value.
How do we establish the value of personal assets?
When it comes to determining the fate of the property in the divorce, there is a legal requirement for it to first be appraised and valued at an agreed amount so that it can be divided fairly.
However, this is not the case with personal items. Most personal items do not need to be valued, as their monetary value would be fairly low, and couples will instead divide the collected personal assets between themselves privately, deciding who would most benefit from each item.
In cases of couples with a large number of high-value and luxury goods, whether it be clothes, shoes, jewellery, or handbags, this is not always an option. In this instance, it is common for couples to split the cost of an external appraisal expert who can determine the monetary value of all shared goods and belongings. This can be an expensive choice, but will generally be worth it in the long run and can avoid lengthy disputes over luxury goods.
My ex has taken personal items that I wanted to keep. What are my options?
If the couple that are going through divorce proceedings are already separated and living apart, it can sometimes be the case that one party has already left the matrimonial home and has taken items with them that they are now unwilling to divide.
If this is the case, and the items are of a high value, then there is a small chance that the family courts may get involved. However, they will generally not do so unless they are of substantial commercial value.
How can MG Legal, ‘local family solicitors near me’, help with my divorce?
Here at MG Legal, there is nothing that our expert family solicitors have not seen, and resolved, over the years. They are familiar with all kinds of divorce disputes, and are at hand to assist in resolving the matter, or to help with the organisation of mediation.
If you and your ex-partner have come to an agreement over the dividing of your personal belongings, and wish to make this agreement legally binding, we are also here to help.
We can organise the inclusion of this into your Financial Consent Order, which will prevent any further disputes from arising, saving a lot of time and energy in the long run.
Our expert family solicitors have over twenty years of experience in divorce law, and offer all services at a reasonable, fixed-fee rate. This means that you won’t be surprised by any nasty hidden coats at any point when working with us.
MG Legal - Your Local Solicitors
Share this post: