Divorce is difficult enough without losing personal property items of special or sentimental value in the process. Prevent this by creating a household inventory checklist. An inventory ensures that all household goods amassed during the marriage are equally divided, and a checklist prevents any individual or category of property from being overlooked, either unintentionally or otherwise. Each party should make a separate checklist. Follow the checklists to create the inventories you will present to the respective attorneys or in the case of pro se litigants, that you will file directly with the court.
Start With Categories
Creating categories for household property items, and formatting the checklist accordingly, will make it less likely to overlook something. For example, group property by type -- furniture, artwork, clothing, books. Alternatively, group according to room, for example, everything located in the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom, the garage. List the categories as headings for the checklist. Often pre-populated household inventory lists are available from attorneys or online legal document services. You can use these as is or as a guideline to help you create your own list.
List Individual Items
Build the household inventory from the checklist by fleshing out the checklist headings with each individual item that fits within that category. Make special note of items either party considers to be nonmarital assets or that either party has a greater interest in or sentimental attachment to.
Assign a monetary value to the checklist categories and for special items, such as original artwork and antiques, include a professional appraisal. Courts generally assign flea market value to items, even when they are new or are in perfect condition. Provide documented, independent proof of the value of any household asset with special value.
Film or Photograph
Document the inventory by filming or still-photographing everything listed in the order presented on the checklist. If documenting everything this way seems too overwhelming, just film or photograph the items of greatest monetary value or those of greatest value to you. Make sure the court knows exactly what item it is dividing when it assigns sole ownership of these particular items to one party or the other.
References & Resources
- University of Illinois, College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences: Household and Personal Property Inventory
- What Happens Now: Divorce
- Florida Legislature: Florida Statutes section 61.075, Equitable Distribution of Marital Assets and Liabilities
- Divorceinfo.com: What You Own and What You Owe