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Best Practices to Divide Household Goods after a Divorce

Admit it.

Dividing  your household goods after divorce can be brutal. You can have endless discussions about pots, pans, and even pencil holders when sentiments are involved. Some couples might even turn this into an ego issue. Other exes might claim possession out of spite and disrespect. 

Dividing your household goods after divorce

You can do things differently by mutually agreeing to divide belongings equally. Or you can distribute the items according to their cost and emotional value. Try to make compromises whenever you can to end things on a positive note. 

Here are a few tips for separation that can decision-making easier: 

1. Avoid Hasty Decisions 

Divisions made after a heated argument with your ex-partner can have irreversible consequences. That’s because your raw emotions and hatred for the other person might not allow you to think rationally. You often miss out on the bigger picture to win petty fights. 

Additionally, highly stressful situations and emotionally-driven decisions can have lingering effects. These decisions include everything from the division of kitchenware, old photographs, wedding gifts, and other sentimental belongings. Sometimes the trivial decisions leave an emotional scar. For instance, you might damage goods, tamper with things, or discard them out of resentment.  

How to navigate this minefield? 

The first step requires you to give yourself (and your partner) time to think.  That way, you can weigh the pros and cons of each choice. Consider the financial and emotional implications during the decision-making process. 

Ask yourself:

  • Will this (really) make me happy?
  • Do I need it?
  • Am I doing this out of spite? 
  • Can I compromise? 

Your answers will direct you towards a strategic and logical action plan. You might even feel indifferent about specific items when you distance yourself from heat-of-the-moment reactions.     

2. Make a List of Your Belongings 

Married couples share many personal possessions, family heirlooms, and household goods between them. The division of these assets might not necessarily get included in pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.  Your best bet is to distribute items without any legal involvement.

List every valuable household good and other possessions you share. You may create categories to simplify the distribution process.

You can begin this process before one of you relocates. That way, everything you want to divide will be under one roof. You also reduce the chances of misplacing personal possessions or mistakenly moving items that belonged to your ex. 

Where to begin?

Survey your house and storage places (i.e. garden shed, basement, attic, and closets). List every valuable household good and other possessions you share. You may create categories to simplify the distribution process. The categories can include furniture, kitchen appliances, garden tools, music collection, and other knick-knacks you keep in your house. 

Highlight things you think you are entitled to with reasoning. Then discuss what compromises you can make to reach an agreement.  

3. Categorize & Prioritize   

Dividing your household goods after divorce can create conflicts. Learn how to make decisions amiably with these practical tips for separation.

Once you have categorized your items, it will become easier to divide them. You may create a two-pile system for equal distribution. The other idea involves weighing in sentimental and emotional attachment to household possessions. 

There are times when a compromise or negotiation is out of the question.

Some simple rules to follow:

  • Wedding Gifts: Divide valuable presents equally and distribute the rest according to preferences. Or, you may keep things your friends and family gifted you.
  • Framed Photographs & Albums: Photos have emotional value for many people. Make copies of the ones both of you want to keep. You can divide the costs to prevent a financial burden on the other person. 
  • Furniture & Kitchenware: Make sure that bedroom sets and cutlery collections are grouped as one item. Then make cost-based decisions to distribute items fair and square.   
  • Items Belonging to Your Children: Avoid fighting over things that belong to your children. It’s practical to keep these items with the custodial parent so the child can use them whenever they want. If required, ask the children to make decisions based on their preferences. For instance, your kids might want one of you to take the camping supplies because you plan more outdoorsy trips. 

If required, you may consult legal advisors to claim valuable items on this list. This, however, should be the last resort.

The Challenge: What If You Can’t Reach a Decision?

There are times when a compromise or negotiation is out of the question. If you are stuck on some items, choose another way to deal with the issue.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Donate the household goods. 
  • Sell items and distribute the money. 
  • You can pass on those belongings to your children (works for older couples). 
  • Ask a mediator or lawyer to intervene for valuable goods. 

In other words, avoid conflicts whenever possible by thinking about practical alternatives. 

The Bottom Line 

Whether you have been married for a year or a decade, the distribution of assets can prove challenging. Use our tricks and tips for separation to simplify the process. Your main goal should be reaching mutual agreements instead of letting egos get in the way.  

Best of luck!

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Written by
Robin & Heather
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Written by Robin & Heather

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