When Dividing up the DVD’s Stalls Out the Divorce

Anyone who has seen the movie “War of the Roses” probably believes that real couples would never go to such extremes during a divorce. They would be wrong. There are scores of divorce horror stories out there, each one more extreme than the last. There is the story of the husband who literally cut the marital home in half with a chainsaw to spite his wife, or many instances of couples who “draw a line” through the middle of the home, daring the other to cross it. While we assume that it would be the big ticket items like the house, car and retirement pension that create the most disagreement during a divorce, in many instances it is the small, seemingly insignificant items that can put a divorce on hold indefinitely.

Couples have been known to fight for years over the family dog, Aunt Emma’s china or even the book or DVD collection they amassed during the marriage. Even though the couple involved in the fight over “stuff” is probably aware on some level just how crazy it is, that “stuff” is always more than a thing—it is a source of deep emotions between the spouses. These “things” can be a symbol of the couple’s relationship and the part of their lives they had invested in one another. Unfortunately, judges are known to get downright crabby when they are required to spend their valuable time trying to convince couples to divide the household goods and some may make arbitrary decisions that nobody is happy with should an agreement not be reached.

When Outside Help is Needed
The problem with fighting over the couch in the living room, the weed eater in the garage or the ceramic owl salt and pepper shakers is that thousands of dollars in legal fees are being racked up every time negotiations ensue. In some cases mediation may be the only way to resolve the issue or a neutral friend might be able to move things along, acting as the calmer voice of reason. It is important that both parties understand the courts will typically award a household asset at a garage sale value. In other words the court will not place the same value on your things as you do. In the case of really high-dollar artwork or antiques, bringing in a professional appraiser will be necessary, but in the case of most people’s household goods, it is unlikely anyone else believes they are as valuable as you.

How to Get Past the Stall
Before you get into arguments about your things, make a comprehensive inventory. You may do this the old-fashioned way—with a paper and pen—or with a video camera or computer-generated list. Both parties will look at the inventory, making notes of what they would like to have, what items they don’t care about one way or another, and what they absolutely must have. On a piece of paper, make a “his” column, a “her” column, a “sell and divide the money” column and, finally, the column of things you are unable to agree on. The items which one person wants and the other does not are easy to categorize. The items nobody cares about, place in the “sell and divide” column. When at all possible, don’t break up sets—keep the table with matching chairs or the matching set of dishes together. Go through the entire inventory until you are left with the dreaded fourth column of items you both want.

Distributing Items You Both Want
Once you get to this point you can either use the method where one person picks one item, the other picks one and so on until the column is empty (flipping a coin to see who goes first), you can agree to sell all the items you can’t agree on and split the money, you can let the judge make the decision and hope for the best or…you can ensure your attorney is able to take that vacation he or she was hoping for. Be aware, however that the longer your divorce stretches on due to disagreements over things, the more negative feelings are likely to build—as your pocketbook shrinks. In the end, it may be necessary to remind yourself that it could be worth losing some of your things in order to get on with the next chapter of your life.

How Matthew S. Poole Can Help
Your divorce attorney can put some perspective on disagreements over household items, and it is wise to allow that to happen. It can be difficult to see the “big picture” when you are flooded with emotion, so listening to your divorce attorney is a wise decision. Matthew S. Poole understands the emotions involved in divorce and has the experience necessary to assist you in making the difficult decision on all aspects of your divorce. Matthew will work tirelessly to ensure you get your fair share in the divorce, while offering the calm voice of reason when necessary. For a consultation, call (601) 573-7429 today or visit our website for more information.

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