Michael G. Putter Attorney at Law
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Dividing up sentimental items when you divorce

For a lot of couples, it's not that hard to divide the marital assets. They can quickly agree about how to handle the house, the bank accounts, the pensions and any investments. These days, many spouses either enter into marriage with a prenuptial agreement or have roughly equal separate income and investments. The big problem isn't centered around how to split the "big" things. It's the little things -- those with sentimental value -- that become hard to divide.

How can you and your spouse approach the issue of dividing items of sentimental value in a rational, fair-minded way?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Consider your real interests

It may be difficult to let go of anything when you feel like you have created the perfect "look" through your furnishings -- but some things will have to go. Try to consider your individual interests and prioritize what you want based around those.

For example, you're the avid entertainer of the two, so you may really want the set of handmade dishes that the two of you bought years ago for holidays and special events. Be willing to trade off something equally important that corresponds to your spouse's interests. Maybe your spouse is the big reader. Giving up the book collection to get the dinnerware and other entertainment items could be fair.

2. Take turns choosing items

Unless you want to sell your collectibles, artwork and other potentially sentimental items and divide the proceeds, you may want to consider a system where you take turns picking what you want. Make a list of all "contested" items and then decide on a system to see who starts the process. (Consider flipping a coin.)

The person to start can pick one item on the list. Then it's the other spouse's turn. By the end, neither of you should be totally pleased with the results -- but you'll at least avoid having to sell everything because you can't agree to another solution.

If you're prepping for a divorce, it's always wisest to get some experienced advice early on. That way, you have a good handle on what the biggest potential issues you may face as your marriage ends. Contact our office for information on how we may be able to help.

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