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Three steps to dividing your household items

During a divorce, property division can be a time-consuming, stressful and disputed process.

Many people worry about dividing significant assets, such as the finances in the bank, their retirement assets and the family home. However, couples must divide all of the marital property within their home too.

Dividing household goods could mean determining who keeps the couch, the dining room set or even the expensive flat-screen television. This can be complex, especially if spouses cannot amicably agree on how to divide these assets equitably on their own.

Here are the three steps spouses can use to divide the household items.

1. Make an inventory list

It is helpful to go through every room in the house and create a general inventory of all shared marital property, which could include:

  • Couches and leisure chairs
  • Dining tables and sets
  • Kitchen appliances
  • China and dining dish sets
  • Electronics
  • Desks and office supplies
  • Outdoor equipment
  • Collectibles
  • Jewelry

Spouses can approach this task together, or they can divide which rooms each spouse will evaluate.

2. Value these assets

To divide the property equitably under North Carolina law, it is necessary to value each asset. Couples have a few options to value their property, including:

  • Obtaining an official appraisal;
  • Researching the average cost of each item; or
  • Reviewing past financial records.

Regardless of the strategy spouses choose, both parties must agree to the values before they move forward.

3. Determine what you want and divide the property

In a mediation session, spouses must choose what assets they wish to keep. Spouses should take turns, go through their inventory and decide who keeps which items.

If spouses dispute possession of an item, they must negotiate. Negotiations can occur in several different ways:

  • A sposue can offer another item of similar value in exchange for the disputed item, such as the dining room table for the couch;
  • One spouse can keep the disputed property, but agree to make up the difference financially to the other spouse; or
  • Spouses can agree to sell the disputed asset and equitably divide the profits.

It may help individuals to carefully evaluate what they want and what they are willing to fight for - if necessary - before making these official decisions during their divorce proceedings.

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