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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Splitting possessions when you end a marriage or civil partnership

Most people manage to agree on how to split possessions when they end a marriage or civil partnership. It’s rare for courts to have to decide on possessions. Find out how to divide what you own at the end of a marriage or civil partnership.

Sorting out the basics about possessions

Start by working out what both of you will need when you’re living separately

When you’re divorcing or ending your civil partnership, you can usually sort out who will keep which possessions yourselves.

In general terms, it’s a good idea to start by working out what both of you will need when you’re living separately. For example, you’ll both need a bed, sofa, and some kitchen equipment.
If you haven’t got enough to share equally – for example, you may only have one sofa – you can make other arrangements. One of you might keep the sofa, while the other may take an agreed amount of money from a savings account to buy another one.

Listing what you want

You could think about making a list of your possessions, with three columns against each item. The columns could cover:

  • things you must have
  • things you’d like to have
  • things you’d give up

If you can, get your husband, wife or civil partner to do the same – but don’t look at each other’s lists. If possible, you can then negotiate and agree about who takes what.

It will be difficult to agree on everything, but it will help you to agree if you’re prepared to be flexible. For example, if you really want one item, you can offer your husband, wife or civil partner another to make up for it.

If you have valuable items

Hopefully you’ll be able to agree on who will keep most ‘day-to-day’ items. But if you own valuable items, like jewellery, cars or art, it may be more difficult.

It’s a very good idea to get a valuation for any items like this, so you both know what they would be worth. You may have to pay someone to give you a valuation.

Once you know how much the items are worth, you may be able to agree who gets what on the basis of the items’ value.

If you can’t agree about possessions

A mediator is an independent negotiator

If you really can’t agree over who keeps which possessions, you’ll need to get help from a mediator or solicitor.

A mediator is an independent negotiator. They will work with both of you to try to get an agreement.

You could also use solicitors to reach an agreement, and they can get the courts to confirm the arrangement. This is called getting a ‘consent order’.

If you think there’s no way you can agree, you’ll have to ask the court to decide about your savings, investments and pension and other financial issues. This is a process called ‘ancillary relief’. It can take a many months and be expensive, so it’s much better to agree if you can.

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