How Does Personal Property Get Divided In A Divorce?

In a divorce, the parties can agree to divide the personal property in a particular way, or the court can make a ruling as to who will receive which items. If the parties are able to work it out between themselves, the court will not intervene. However, if the parties are unable to get along and unable to reach an agreement regarding the logistics of where, when, and how the property will be physically divided, then a number of options can be used. Oftentimes, a police officer will join the parties at the location where the property is being kept and perform a “keep the peace” function as the parties separate the property. Other times, one spouse will put the other’s personal property in a shed or storage unit and then provide them with the key. Family members or friends are sometimes used as go-betweens to assist in the transfer of property. If the parties simply cannot find a way to peacefully divide the property, then the court will occasionally be asked to intervene and make specific orders pertaining to the logistics of the division of the property.

Can The Other Party Hold My Belongings Until After A Divorce Is Finalized?

With a few exceptions, one spouse cannot hold the other spouse’s belongings during the divorce process. Parties should make reasonable attempts to get their property from the other side, and if the other party simply refuses to hand over that property, then that refusal would be considered a violation of the decree. Under such circumstances, the spouse who is unable to obtain their property would have enforcement remedies available to them, such as filing an Order to Show Cause. However, if the other party is holding the property pursuant to a term in the decree that allows them to do so until after the other party has complied with a provision they agreed to, then that would be allowed. In addition, the other party would be allowed to hold property for the purposes of keeping it safe and protected until reasonable arrangements can be made.

What Should I Do About The Items The Other Party Leaves Behind?

If one party leaves behind property, reasonable attempts to have that property returned to the other party should be made. For example, the party could invite them to retrieve their property in the presence of a police officer. A person should not put unreasonable demands on the other party, such as demanding that they immediately retrieve their property and threatening to throw it away if they don’t. A court would not consider such a demand to be reasonable and may hold the person liable for any damaged, destroyed, or dissipated property.

If after a reasonable period of time it appears as though the other party has abandoned their property despite attempts to have it returned to them, an individual would at some point be justified in disposing of that property. However, before doing so, a party should make several reasonable attempts via text, email, or mail to address the issue. One method that has been successful in the past is to deliver all of the property to a storage unit, pay for one month’s worth of the storage unit fee, and deliver the key to the storage unit to the other party. If the other party chooses not to pick up the items and fails to pay the following month’s storage fees, then the owner of the storage unit will dispose of the property.

For more information on Division Of Personal Property In A Divorce, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children