Divorce and Personal Property

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 by Marc Beyer and is filed under Divorce,  Process,  Property.

One thing that is accomplished by a divorce is a “just and equitable division” of the marital estate. Your marital estate can consist of real estate, a business, retirement accounts, bank accounts, vehicles, and any other assets of value. As I often explain to clients, to accomplish this division, we create a marital balance sheet and itemize all of the assets (and debts) that make up the marital estate. We also assign a value to these assets and debts, and then place them under either the wife’s column or the husband’s column. The goal is almost always to divide the marital estate in such a way that the wife’s column is equal to the husband’s column at the bottom of the balance sheet.

The focus will be on the items of value. It is understood that within every marriage, there is a fair amount of “stuff” like furniture, clothing, and other items that we refer to as “personal property.” In dividing your marital estate, though, don’t allow yourself to get too hung up on dividing personal property. While you may have a personal attachment to certain items of personal property, understand that the Court will not. The court will view your personal property simply as “stuff.” And, Courts don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to personal property disputes. I’ve heard more than one Judge say that they will simply order an estate sale and require the parties to equally divide the proceeds rather than have a trial over the personal property.

For this reason, most divorce decrees do not even address personal property at all, other than to say that the parties shall equally (or equitably) divide the personal property, if they have not done so already. Many decrees will also have a requirement that the parties are to submit any personal property disputes to binding arbitration, rather than Court.

In most cases, personal property disputes just aren’t worth litigating. If the Court listens to your dispute at all, they will assign garage sale value to items of personal property, and not their replacement cost or what you paid for them.

Keep this in mind as you are dividing your marital estate.

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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.