How to Treat Personal Possessions During a Divorce

Posted on: 12 October 2019

When two people decide to join together in matrimony, they are essentially coming together as one. They have essentially, entered into a legal agreement with many obligations. Sadly, a large number of such marriages end in dissolution, and it can be difficult for those individuals to separate from one entity and move back to a life as an individual. In particular, it can be difficult to separate all the belongings that are now in the family home, and this can cause a great deal of confusion. If you're in this situation and don't know what to do with any items that you consider to be exclusively yours, how should you proceed?

Passage of Time

During the course of the marriage, items may have been purchased that were intended for personal or individual use. On the other hand, other items may have been acquired that were intended to be used collectively, and these possessions will need to be handled separately. Both parties will also have to take into account possessions that they owned before the date of the marriage and which were never intended to be a part of the union.

Grey Areas

It's not surprising that this could lead to a lot of misunderstanding, as some of these items may have been in possession for so long that the individual cannot remember when and where they were bought. Crucially, they may not be able to remember whether they were intended to be for the use of the individual or the couple as a whole. Anything that falls into this grey area has to be treated as part of the joint estate, unless evidence can be brought forward to the contrary.

Best Practice

If you want to lay claim to a particular valuable item that was yours before the date of the marriage, then you should bring forward proof. Take photographs of the item in question and keep the receipt or other documentation handy so that you can bolster your claim. Once you have done this, you can remove the item to a separate location for safekeeping if you wish, but you should always be upfront and very open about what you are doing.

Never try to conceal anything or to try and fool the other party, or the court for that matter. This can create an antagonistic situation and may prove to be costly in the long run.

If you are not sure how to proceed or are particularly worried about some of your possessions, talk with your family lawyer for their further advice.