Much contest during a divorce proceeding involves the division of marital property. But what about your personal items that are in your spouse’s possession? Perhaps you left items at the marital home, storage facility, or car. What recourse do you have if you do not have access to your personal items?
Make a List of Your Personal Property
First, it is important to ensure that the personal property is addressed during the divorce proceedings. When property is divided last minute it can be in a haphazard and incomplete manner. Here, it is difficult for the parties to recall what property is actually theirs and there is a greater chance of heated emotions. Therefore, it is vital that you prepare an extensive list of all the items that you would like returned to you as well as a food faith estimate of the value of these items. If possible, you should include any evidence of ownership you have over these items, such as receipts. This list should then be delivered to your attorney who can work on obtaining these items before court or mediation.
Attempt a Voluntary Division of the Property
If the property that is listed above is reasonable and there is agreement to it by both parties, then the items may be divided voluntarily. If this is the case, and the court has not made a ruling to the contrary, a spouse is entitled to collect agreed upon personal items and separate property. It is best to limit this property solely to personal items instead of high value items that may cause disagreement between the parties. In this same respect it must be noted that transfer of property held in title is strictly forbidden once a divorce has been filed.
Court Ordered Division
If the parties cannot reach an agreement to distribute personal property then a court order may divide the personal property for them. This may either be accomplished through a specific hearing and order over the personal property or through a settlement agreement at the conclusion of the divorce proceeding. Either option will specify the specific property and manner in which it may be retrieved and will be put into effect once entered.
Regardless of the decision you make to aid in the distribution of personal assets, it is important to consider the way in which such personal items will be cared for during the proceedings. Until is it decided how these items will be distributed, you are under and obligation to preserve the marital assets and/or the property of your spouse. Therefore, one spouse may not sell, damage, or place in the garbage the personal property of their spouse that has remained in their care. Instead, you must protect the property while you wait for either an agreement between you and your spouse or an order by the court.
If you have questions concerning distribution of personal property please contact the attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. We can help assist you during this emotional time and ensure that you are able to obtain the personal property that is rightfully yours.