PERSONAL PROPERTY AND DIVORCE
Who gets the couch? Who gets the big screen television? Unfortunately, sometimes people end up fighting over personal property in a divorce. Each party has a 50% interest in any marital asset such as personal property. However, there are some exceptions which would include inherited items, items that were purchased before marriage and items that are personal to the individual. Obviously, a wife would have no marital interest in her Husband’s clothing. What about the wedding ring? The court in Mallorie and Mallorie (2006) concluded that a wife’s wedding ring should be treated as her separate property rather than as a marital asset. The court stated that if the ring was gifted to the wife before marriage, the ring would be considered a premarital asset and should be awarded to her. If the ring was received during the marriage, it should be considered an item of personal apparel, that is uniquely suited to the recipient. The Court ended up holding that regardless of when wife acquired her wedding ring, it should be considered as separate property. What about the boat? The boat should be valued and both parties have an interest if it was purchased during the marriage. It doesn’t matter that Husband never used the boat and only wife did or that it is titled only in wife’s name. Remember that when personal property is valued it is at garage sale value. So even if the couch cost $2000 two years ago, it is probably worth only what you could get for it in a garage sale (not a lot). I encourage my clients to each make a list of the items they want and exchange those lists and then talk about it after a couple of days has passed. There is a lot of emotion attached to items and who gets what. A family law attorney can certainly help navigate a client through a division but that can be costly. It is better if the couple can fairly divide things themselves. Should you have any family law questions, you should contact a family law attorney.