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Property division: Ensuring each spouse has cutlery and crockery

California is a community property state, and under the California Family Code, all marital assets are designated for equal division between the two spouses in the event of a divorce (absent a written agreement to the contrary). Assets brought into the marriage by either party will remain his or her property, as will personal gifts and inheritances – if they was not commingled with community property. It is often said that one should put emotions aside during the property division process of a divorce, and while this may be possible with valuable assets such as cars and real estate, emotions sometimes take over when dividing household items.

High asset household items such as antiques, art, rugs and jewelry will typically require an appraisal and be divided according to the monetary value. However, ensuring both spouses have the essential items to set up a separate home may prove to be a difficult and emotional exercise. This will mean dividing cutlery, crockery and kitchen utensils, along with furniture, curtains, linens and towels. While a couple may have spent what was considered a fortune at the time of purchase on a lounge or dining room suite, it will yield a much lower sum of money if it is sold now. Selling it will require buying two new suites -- one for each spouse -- and will require significantly more funds than its sales value.

Couples use different methods of dividing household items. They may list the contents of each room and indicate anything to which they are particularly attached. Using such a list may form a basis to start the division process, but do the parties really want to divide a complete set of dinnerware or silverware into two equal parts? The emotions involved in dividing household items can be overwhelming and may even lead to arguments or contention.

Some California couples who are overwhelmed by this part of the property division process choose to consult with their legal counsel for suggestions on how to resolve these issues. The attorney may suggest an experienced family law mediator. Through the mediation process, couples typically discover that communication and compromise lead to a fair division of household items that may have more sentimental than monetary value.

Source:, "Dividing Stuff", Dr. Lynne C. Halem, Accessed on Feb. 27, 2015

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
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Phone: 916-905-4805
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