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What happens to all our personal property in a divorce?

Couples typically acquire countless personal items during their marriage, from furniture and computers to artwork and jewelry. Spouses buy books, gaming consoles and household appliances. If that couple divorces, these and other personal property items can be eligible for division.

Dividing personal property can be more complicated than people expect, even though the items are typically small and less expensive than property like cars and homes. To better understand how to navigate the process of dividing household items and personal property, read on below. 

Categorizing every item

To begin with, you will need to categorize all the property. You could do this by going room to room and creating an inventory first. Or, you can use a list you might already have for moving or home insurance purposes, like this one

After you have your list of items, put them in one of four categories: 

  • What you want to keep
  • What your ex wants to keep
  • What you will sell
  • What you will throw away or donate

Assigning value

To assign value to individual items, you can look at the resale price for similar items online. Check out Craigslist, eBay or Facebook Marketplace to get an idea of what it could sell for.

For items that are more difficult to value, you might call in an appraiser.

You could also hold a garage sale; be sure to keep track of the profits.

Dividing profits or property

Based on the value of the items you keep or sell, you should then divide property and profits in accordance with Michigan's equitable distribution laws. This means you should divide them in a manner deemed fair, not necessarily equal. 

What to do when conflict arises

Unfortunately, conflicts can arise during this process. You can try to avoid them by setting clear guidelines and rules for how to divide personal property from the beginning. This might involve flipping a coin to decide who gets something you both want or agreeing on a formula for assigning value.

However, if disputes still arise that parties cannot work out themselves, then they will have to address them along with other property division matters during mediation or litigation.

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Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC
600 South Adams Road Suite 100
Birmingham, MI 48009

Phone: 248-358-8880
Birmingham Family Law Office

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