How to Divide Your Possessions During a Divorce

Written by ehow relationships & family editor
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Dividing your possessions may seem like a monumental task. Make lists and use careful bargaining, and the process will go smoothly.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging


  1. 1

    Make a list of your possessions. Make three columns: things you must have, things you would like to have but can give up if necessary, and things you do not want. Do not show this list to your spouse.

  2. 2

    Talk to your spouse sometime when you can meet comfortably without distractions. Suggest that you try to divide things up yourselves.

  3. 3

    Make a list with two columns - one for you and one for your spouse.

  4. 4

    Go through your possessions one by one and put them in someone's column. Try not to argue or become angry when you are negotiating.

  5. 5

    Make sure you get the items on your must-have list. Give up things on your list of things you don't want in order to get them. If you give up something your spouse really wants, make sure you get something in return that you really want.

  6. 6

    Give up things on your "would like to have" list only after careful consideration and in exchange for something else that is important to you.

  7. 7

    Try to be fair. Don't say you really must have your spouse's collection of Victorian door hinges just to be difficult.

  8. 8

    Draw up a list of disputed items and then take turns picking items from the list.

  9. 9

    Realize that the laws about property distribution vary greatly from state to state. In some states, everything must be divided equally; in others, it must be divided fairly. Check with an attorney or a self-help law book to find out what applies in your state.

  10. 10

    Consider mediation. If you just can't agree, but don't want a judge to divide things up for you, a mediator can help you work out an agreement yourselves.

  11. 11

    Make sure that your children's belongings stay with the children.

Tips and warnings

  • Write down any agreement you reach so it cannot be disputed later.
  • Have an attorney or mediator legalize your agreement so that it becomes binding.
  • Realize that money, real estate and cars are property and must be divided.
  • Pay attention to the dollar value of the items you are negotiating. If you give up a house to get the car, make sure that you are adequately compensated for this financial hit in some other way.
  • If you are in an abusive situation, it is not safe for you to try to negotiate property division on your own. Get an attorney to represent you.

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