When it comes to dividing up household items and marital property during divorce, there are several ways to handle things. Some couples want to get through it quickly, and for others, it can be time-consuming and even contentious. Factors such as being married for a long time, having valuable shared property, or having a home office can make things more difficult. There are certain legal guidelines that apply in these situations, and understanding them can be quite useful.
Private versus Protected Property
Private belongings, such as collectables, jewelry, family heirlooms, clothing, work tools, personal gifts, and office furniture are less likely to be part of the property division. These fall into the category of protected property and belong to one spouse. For items that are protected, permission from the other spouse may be needed; this includes artwork, small and major appliances, electronics, and furniture. Even if one spouse purchased the movable items, the other may have to give their consent as these are usually considered community property.
Dividing Up Movable Property
If a separated couple can agree to divide up their household belongings in an organized fashion, it can help smooth things along. Going room by room and creating an itemized list is one way to start. If both parties wish to keep the same item, this should be noted as the list is being compiled. When the list is complete, it may be possible to negotiate on certain belongings. If both spouses want the same thing and cannot agree, further discussions may be warranted. Being open to compromise can avoid arguments and determine the value of certain items; in these cases, an appraiser may be necessary. If children are involved, it is important to consider their belongings. These items can stay with the spouse that has custody. It should be noted that the other spouse cannot be charged the value for these items.
When Problems Arise
Some spouses attempt to remove and sell protected property without obtaining permission from the other one, but it is possible to stop this from happening. One way to do this is to obtain a seizure before judgment, and a qualified divorce lawyer can help with this.
When the spouses are not on speaking terms, and one needs to retrieve their personal items from the residence, it may be advisable to arrange beforehand for the house to be empty or to have another person present when the spouse comes to get their belongings. If it is a very difficult relationship, a law enforcement officer may need to be present. Spouses can also ask judges to make emergency decisions, which can provide access to the home at a set date and time.
South Jersey Divorce Lawyers at the Burnham Law Group, LLC Help Clients with Property Division Issues
If you need legal help with dividing property during a divorce, a knowledgeable South Jersey divorce lawyer at the Burnham Law Group, LLC can help. Fill out an online form for a free consultation today. With offices in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, and Atlantic County.