What Happens to Personal Property in a Divorce?

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

When most people think of equitable distribution of property in a divorce, they likely think of houses and properties, investments, and other monetary assets. However, there is usually a significant amount of personal property to be divided and making decisions regarding this kind of property can raise disputes and cause issues in a divorce. Like real property and assets, Florida law requires that personal property is divided equitably between the spouses, and agreeing on what is equitable can be challenging. The following is some information regarding handling personal property in your divorce.

Disagreements Can Be Costly

In the popular movie When Harry Met Sally, a main character is discussing divorce and states, “This eight dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of That’s Mine, This Is Yours.” While intended to be humorous, this concept is unfortunately a reality for many contemptuous divorcing spouses. When spouses refuse to agree on certain issues, those issues must be decided by the court and such litigation can be costly. In order to avoid spending $1,500 in legal fees determining what happens to $300 worth of holiday decorations, it is always best that you and your spouse attempt to agree on how the personal property will be divided. If there are certain items that cause particular sticking points, a mediator may be able to provide a more efficient resolution than taking the issue before the court.

Beware of Overbroad Clauses in the Divorce Agreement

Some divorce decrees may contain a standard clause reading something similar to: “Each party shall keep the personal property in that party’s possession, free and clear of any claim of the other.” While this clause can seem like a quick alternative to discussing every piece of personal property, it often leads to a highly disproportionate and inequitable division of the personal property.

For example, if you moved out of the family home into an apartment and took only the basic furniture and household items you need, those are the items that would be considered “in your possession.” Meanwhile, your spouse would still be in possession of an entire house’s worth of personal property, including everything stored in the basement, shed, garage, etc. While such items may seem like an inconsequential loss at the time, replenishing property such as tools, camping supplies, appliances, and any other such items can be extremely expensive.

Even if you do not want to divide each item up, you are still entitled to an equitable amount of the value of the personal marital property. The value of the property left in the house can be determined and your spouse can be required to pay you for your share if they retain possession of that property. This compensation can help you replace items and start over in your new home. This is only one of many options for handling the division of personal property in a divorce.

Contact a Boca Raton Divorce Attorney Today

Experienced Boca Raton divorce lawyer Alan R. Burton can help with the many issues that will arise in your divorce. Please call today for help at 954-229-1660.

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