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Dividing sentimental assets in divorce

The fair division of assets can be one of the most frustrating sticking points any couple faces when separating. While the large, valuable items may seem like the most difficult to divide, sometimes this is not the case. A court will usually distribute valuable items as it sees fit if a couple cannot agree on how to do so, but items that have more sentimental value than market value can become vicious points of contention in a separation, dragging out an already emotionally and financially draining process.

The best place to start is for both parties to make a list of the items they want to take with them after the divorce. Once finished, the parties calmly exchange the lists, and can then negotiate on items that appear on both lists. If there is an item that one party dearly wants for sentimental reasons and the other party is holding onto out of a desire to punish the other, it is best to simply let that item go, and if necessary flip a coin or use some other game of chance to decide who should keep it. If you fear that an item of great personal significance may disappear, it is wise to protect it from harm.

When it comes to items of significant value, it may be helpful to know that usually the court considers property that was brought into a marriage to be owned separately, while items acquired during the marriage are generally considered marital property. If you are unable to come to an equitable agreement about property, you may want to consider professional mediation by a qualified attorney who can help protect your rights. Other options include obtaining professional valuation of the disputed property. Keep in mind that these services will incur additional expenses, that in some cases may exceed the value of the items at the center of the conflict.

Separating the remains of a marriage is innately an emotional roller coaster, but it is a necessary step on the way to creating a new life on the other side of divorce.

Source: firstwivesworld.com, "Divvying Up Everything from Family Silver to DVDs During Divorce," Janell Weinstein, accessed July 11, 2016

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