Your possessions will either be deemed as personal property, marital property or separate property.
Personal property- items that you shared in everyday life that may hold some emotional value, such as furniture, music collections, electronics, a shared car etc.
Marital property- possessions that were attained during the marriage between you, such as the family home
Separate property- property that was attained before the marriage or kept separate from the marital property in one spouse’s name.
Who owns personal property?
The law says that, in general-
Whoever bought the item, owns the item
If it was a present, the recipient keeps it
If it was a shared purchase, it’s shared ownership. One partner can buy the other out to gain full ownership.
Who gets the cat?
Often, couples will argue about who gets the family pet when splitting up. The best way to deal with pet ownership is to consider the following.
If children are involved, keep them together. The divorce process will be hard and confusing for both of them, and having them stay together with their pets can provide some stability to keep things steady.
Consider the cost of maintenance. You will need to make sure whoever has the cat (or any other family pet,) can afford its food, any potential medical bills and other needs it may have. As Dog’s Trust says, a dog is for life, not just for Christmas!
Make sure whoever is keeping the pet has time to care for it. If one of you works 50 hour weeks, it may be hard to factor in walks and quality time with your pet, and wouldn’t be fair on them.
How do we decide who gets what?
If you can, it’s recommended to avoid any legal disputes about your personal property and try to keep things as civil as you can. It would almost certainly be cheaper for you to replace any items that you’re arguing over than to pay the legal fees to take the dispute to court. The best thing to do is to try and split everything as fairly as you can, taking into account if one party is moving out and one of you is staying in the home. It might be fairest that whoever is moving out takes more furniture as they will have to pay for somewhere else to stay as well as furnishings, so making decisions like this can help keep things more amicable.
Sometimes it isn’t as easy as splitting things this way, and if you’re finding it difficult it may be beneficial to have all of the shared assets valued, to ensure that each of you is getting half and end any arguing about what’s fair.
What counts as separate property?
Any of your separate property will not enter the divorce proceedings. Separate property is defined as -
Property owned by one spouse before the marriage
A gift or inheritance received to one spouse before or during the marriage
Property one spouse acquired that the other spouse had no contact/use with
Anything that has been agreed as separate in something like a prenuptial agreement
Anything that has been obtained with separate property assets that are intended to stay separate from the marriage.
Trying to keep things civil is more easily said than done, especially if the divorce is a little messy, however, it is in everyone’s best interest to keep things as friendly as possible and settle as much as you can out of court. It saves time and stress, along with a hefty legal fee.