Household Items and Personal Belongings after Separation

When couples decide to be separated, one of the most difficult decisions they have to make is what to do with household items and personal belongings after separation.

This property dividing process can be especially complicated if there are children involved. To make things quite easier, I will discuss two practical ways.

First is the rules for matrimonial property, and the second is the rules for personal property. To find the details of these rules, go through the whole article.

household items and personal belongings after separation

How to Divide Household Items and Personal Belongings after Separation: 2 Rules

When a couple separates, many decisions about household items and personal belongings must be made. Who will get the house? Who will get the car? What will happen to the furniture? These decisions may be tough, and legal procedures must be followed.

But first, I have a story for you. 6 months ago, my cousin Alena got divorced. Her father gifted her husband Hansal a car during their marriage. After the separation, Hansal wanted to keep the car, but Alena argued that it should be divided equally between them. They both have their lawyers look at the situation and agree that the car will be sold, and the return amount will be split evenly between them.

Want to know why it happened? The reason is the matrimonial property rules. Remember, in all cases, two main rules exist for dividing property after separation. One is for marital property, and the other is the personal property.

#1. Rules for matrimonial property:

Matrimonial or marital property is any property acquired during the marriage, including the matrimonial home. The matrimonial home is the main residence where the couple lived at the time of their separation. Several movable properties exist in a matrimonial home. 

Under the law, all marital property is considered jointly owned by both spouses. It means that both spouses have an equal right to the property, regardless of who purchased it or who is listed as the owner on the title.

Provincial and territorial laws govern the rules for matrimonial property. In some states, matrimonial property is divided equally in a 50:50 split process between spouses, regardless of who owned or paid for the property. Here, the starting point is equality.

For example, in Ontario, the Family Law Act says that the matrimonial home and household items should be divided equally between spouses. This applies even if the home was purchased before the marriage or only one spouse is listed on the title.

In other states, like British Columbia and Alberta, the starting point is not equality but fairness. The court will try to find several factors to decide how to divide the property, including:

  • How long was the couple married
  • The needs of each spouse, mainly if there are young children
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marriage, including homemaking and childrearing
  • The value of the matrimonial property
  • The income and earning capacity of each spouse

The court may also consider any other factor that it deems relevant.

In British Columbia, for instance, the court may grant one spouse ownership of the marital house if doing so would prevent an unequal distribution of assets. For example, if young children are in the home, one parent may need to remain at home.

If a court in Alberta determines that a 50/50 split of marital assets would be unfair, they have the discretion to award the marital residence to one of the spouses. Possible causes include substantial debt or the requirement of one parent to remain at home to care for small children.

Be sure that you may face legal problems if you remove matrimonial property before finalizing the divorce. Don’t try to do that.

#Rules for personal property:

Personal property includes anything that one spouse owned before the marriage or that was inherited or gifted to one spouse during the marriage. It also includes anything that was bought after the separation.

The general rule is that each spouse gets to keep their personal property. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if the couple has joint bank accounts or joint credit cards, the court may order that these be divided equally between the spouses.

Another exception is when one spouse uses their personal property for the benefit of the family. For example, if one spouse has a collection of paintings in the matrimonial home, the court may order that these be divided equally between the spouses.

In some provinces and territories, there is a presumption that personal property should be divided equally between spouses. This means that the court will start with the assumption that the property should be divided equally, but they may deviate from this if there are good reasons to do so.

For example, in Quebec, the Civil Code presumes that all property acquired during the marriage, including personal property, should be divided equally between spouses. However, the court may decide to divide the property differently if it would be unfair to do an equal split.

5 Tips on How to Divide Household Items and Personal Belongings:

The process of dividing household items and personal belongings can be complicated, especially if the couple has a lot of belongings or if they are attached to specific items. Here are five tips on how to make the process easier:

Make a master list: Make a list of all the household items and personal belongings that need to be divided. It will help you track what needs to be divided and make the process less overwhelming. Try to make your list based on objective criteria, such as who purchased the item, who is listed on the title, and how much the recent price is.

Further, it can be helpful to categorize the items so that you can more easily determine who gets what.

Catarozed the items: Decide which household items and personal belongings are most important to you. In this regard, justify the value of the items. For example, you may want to keep the family home because it is where your children grew up. Alternatively, you may want to keep your wedding dress because it has sentimental value.

For sentimental value items, try to negotiate with your spouse to see if they are willing to give them up in exchange for something else you may want. This will help you prioritise what you want to keep and make it easier to let go of less important items.

Be willing to compromise: If there are certain items that you both want, try to come up with a compromise that works for both of you. Additionally, be willing to let go of items that are not as important to you to avoid arguments.

Be respectful: Household items and personal belongings can be sentimental, so respecting your partner’s feelings is essential. Avoid being argumentative or making derogatory comments about their belongings. And obviously, try to divide everything from an equality sentiment.

Get help from experts: Get help from a mediator or lawyer if you are having trouble reaching an agreement. If you cannot agree on your own, get help from a professional who can assist you in dividing the household items and personal belongings.

Dividing household items and personal belongings after separation can be a difficult process. However, following these tips can make the task easier and less stressful.

How to divide personal property in a divorce? I hope the below discussion will guide you properly:

FAQs on Household Items and Personal Belongings after Separation

What are considered household items in divorce?

Household items typically include furniture, appliances, dishes, and other things used daily. However, this can vary depending on the province or territory in which you live. Here is a list-

  • Furniture: beds, dressers, nightstands, couches, chairs, coffee tables, end tables
  • Appliances: refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer
  • Dishes and cookware
  • Linens: towels, sheets, blankets
  • Electronics: television, computer
  • Window treatments: curtains, blinds
  • Tools

How to protect your personal belongings?

It is crucial to protect your personal belongings if you are going through a divorce. This includes items such as clothes, jewelry, and personal keepsakes. Here are some tips on how to protect your personal belongings:

  • Keep a list of your personal belongings. This can help you track what you own and make it easier to prove ownership if there is a dispute.
  • Store your personal belongings in a safe place. If you are concerned about your spouse taking your belongings, consider storing them in a friend’s or relative’s house.
  • Take pictures of your personal belongings. This can help you document the condition of the items and prove ownership if necessary.
  • Keep your personal belongings with you if possible. If you are moving out of the family home, take your personal belongings.
  • Get a restraining order if necessary. If you are concerned enough about your safety, you can get a restraining order to keep your spouse and personal belongings away from you.
  • If you have a prenuptial agreement, review it so that you understand what is protected in the event of a divorce.

[A prenuptial agreement, also known as “prenup,” is a contract established before a couple’s marriage. The parties to a prenuptial agreement often detail their respective assets and debts and agree on how those assets and liabilities would be divided in the event of a divorce or death.]

How to pick up personal belongings after separation?

If you are separating from your spouse, you may need to pick up your personal belongings from the family home. Here are some basic tips on how to do this:

  • Make a list of the items you want to take with you. It will help you make sure you don’t forget anything.
  • Pack your belongings in boxes or bags. It will make it easier to carry everything with you.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you. It can be helpful to have someone else with you when you are picking up your belongings.
  • Be respectful of your spouse’s belongings. Avoid taking anything that doesn’t belong to you, and try not to damage your spouse’s belongings.
  • Keep your emotions in check. It can be difficult, but staying calm and avoiding arguing with your spouse is essential.

How long do I have to keep my ex-partner’s belongings?

In general, you should keep your ex-partner’s belongings until they can pick them up or until you have agreed on what to do with them. You may need to consult a lawyer if you cannot agree. However, if your ex-partner does not take their belongings, you may confuse about what to do with them. 

There are a few options. You can keep the items, sell them, or donate them to charity. If you decide to keep the items, make sure that you store them in a safe place where your ex-partner cannot access them. If you decide to sell the items, you can sell them online or at a garage sale. If you choose to donate the items, you can do so to a local charity or thrift store.

To avoid any kind of legal problem in future, you may apply to the court for permission of selling your spouse’s property.

Can the police help retrieve personal belongings?

If you are having trouble retrieving your personal belongings from your ex-partner, you may call the police for help. They can aid in retrieving your belongings if a restraining order is in place or if your ex-partner violates the terms of the divorce agreement. 

However, the police cannot force your ex-partner to give you your belongings unless there is a court order. You should speak to a lawyer if you need proper help retrieving your belongings.

Final Thoughts:

If you and your spouse are having trouble dividing household items and personal belongings after separation, try following the tips in this article. However, the division of matrimonial property can be more complex. It will often depend on factors such as who contributed more financially to the marriage or who has custody of the children.

By respecting each other’s feelings and compromising, you may be able to come to an agreement that works for both of you.

Whatever the situation, it is vital to seek legal advice to ensure that all household items and personal belongings are divided fairly after a separation. If you still cannot reach an agreement, get help from a professional mediator or lawyer.

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