How Do We Divide Our Stuff After Divorce?

"How do we divide the household furniture and personal items?" Simple agreement.

If you divorcing in Illinois you will need to divide furniture and personal items, called "personal property." The best answer is to talk to your ex spouse and come up with a simple agreement and put it in writing listing and dividing the personal property. This will save you both stress and attorney fees.

The Written List

If the simple agreement fails, try a written list.  If you and your spouse cannot divide the personal property by simple agreement, the next thing to do is to jointly come up with a detailed written list of all of items of furniture and personal items you own. Check off those items on that written list that are not in dispute and are agreed, leaving only those items of personal property that are still not agreed upon.

Each choose an item on the list. Using your written list, the remaining items that are still disputed can be divided in a variety of ways. The first way is to make a choice in rotation. In other words you choose one item and your spouse gets the next choice and so forth until all of the items have been assigned to one spouse or the other.

A second way is to make a written list assigning values to each of the items in the house and each spouse takes 50% of the value of the total of those items by picking and choosing items to make up that 50%.

One way to assure a fair split is to propose an agreed value for each item and be prepared to accept that item as yours or give it to your spouse for the same value. In that way you are not overstating the value or "low balling" the value. For example, I think the dining room table is worth $1,000. I will buy you out at that value and put it on my side of the list or you can give me a credit for $1,000 and put the table on your side of the list. By bargaining back and forth you will come up with an agreed split of the personal property.

Make Your Own Written List

Even if you and your ex spouse cannot agree upon a written list of items dividing the personal property, you should still create your own list of the household furniture and personal items. You can ask the court to divide these items if all else fails.

Once you have a list dividing the household furniture and personal items both of you should sign off on it and give it to your lawyer.

If you have antiques, collectable or household furniture and personal items that are truly worth expensive, you can pay a professional appraiser to value those items and negotiate them as part of the overall settlement. A good place to find an experienced personal property expert is from a moving company.

Remember that as soon as you buy a piece of furniture it loses much of its value almost immediately. Used furniture has very little resale value. Think resale shop here.

Some Additional Things to Consider

Non-marital versus marital household furniture and furnishings should also be factored in. Divorce law in Illinois provides that only marital furniture and personal items are to be divided. Marital items of furniture and personal items are those things which you have acquired during your marriage for example those things which have been purchased with money from either of you or joint money.

Household furniture and personal items owned by a spouse prior to the marriage are non-marital property of that spouse. Also, household furniture and personal items which were gifts to a spouse or inherited by a spouse before or after the marriage are the non-marital property of that spouse.

One question asked all the time is: who gets the wedding gifts? If one spouse's parents or relatives gave gifts to the couple as wedding gifts they are probably marital items and need be divided.

After separating out the non-marital items of personal property and household furnishings and assigning them to the person they belong to, the remaining marital items not agreed by the two of you must be divided by the court if there is no agreement between the parties.

If you are in need of a mediation attorney or advice about divorce in Illinois, contact the experienced attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio. Call 630-920-8855 for a free initial consultation.

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