Tips for splitting your household possessions

All the possessions you’ve accumulated over the course of your relationship need to be divided – from the furniture and white goods to pots and pans, entertainment equipment, collectables, photos, artwork, sentimental items and everything in between…

For many couples, working through the list of possessions and deciding who keeps what leads to conflict. In fact, simple household possessions can often be the most hotly contested part of a property settlement.

Over the years, we’ve seen many drawn-out disputes between couples over a simple possession or possessions that result in legal bills far higher than the cost of simply replacing the item.

It’s natural for emotions to run high when it comes to our possessions – but it’s important to ‘pick your battles’ and focus on what really matters, rather than ‘matters of principle’.

If you are leaving the home, it is wise to take your personal and sentimental items with you to ensure they’re safe. Sadly, in high conflict situations, we’ve seen personal possessions destroyed, damaged or lost. While this behaviour isn’t condoned by the courts, the chance of getting compensation for these items after the fact is quite low.

Generally speaking, when it comes to household items and possessions:

  • the value of ‘household’ items is based on the second-hand value (not insurance value).
  • personal possessions or items gifted or inherited are normally retained by the person who received them.
  • items bought for children should be kept where the child lives primarily or where practical, go back and forth when the child visits each parent.

When helping our clients work through their property settlements and household possessions, we encourage them to:

  • aim for an equitable distribution of larger items that are costly to replace, like white goods, TV’s and larger furniture.
  • work through the process with an accredited mediator if they are struggling to reach an agreement.
  • consider selling items they can’t agree on and adding the proceeds to the pot.

If you’re struggling with a separation or property settlement, feel free to get in touch – we’re here to help you understand your different options, how the law applies to your situation and offer valuable advice.