Dividing Personal Property in a Divorce

Because personal property is defined as everything that you and your spouse own that is not real property (real estate), this category covers a vast number of items.

Here is a list of typical examples from dissolution cases:

• Household furniture and items
• Bank accounts
• Stocks and bonds, stock warrants, and stock options
• Copyrights, patents, and licenses
• Royalties
• Motor vehicles, aircraft, and boats, along with their associated equipment
• Pets, including racing and show animals
• Collectibles such as paintings, other art work, rare books, coins, stamps, antiques, jewelry, and musical instruments
• Safe deposit box contents
• Club memberships
• Hotel points and frequent flyer miles
• Accrued vacation from an employer
• Judgments due to a party or potential civil claims.

Personal property is not commonly appraised in a family law proceeding because the cost of litigating the property interests in these items generally exceeds their value. Household items, such as furniture and dishware, are usually valued at their ‘garage sale’ value. In other words, unless the furniture is an antique, the value is the resale value, not what you purchased it for. However, highly valuable items of personal property (vehicles, boats, airplanes, antiques, collectibles, furs) may need to be appraised.

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