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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Helping Divorcing Couples Divide Belongings

The technique used by most divorcing couples for dividing furnishings and personal belongings is simple. The parties create a master list of items, grouped in a logical way (such as “dining room chairs go with dining room table”). Each party puts a check mark next to the items he or she wants, and then the lists are compared. If there are items neither party wants, those items are offered to a charity, friends or relatives or they are sold.

Then the parties decide who gets the items that both parties want by simply doing some “horse trading” (“how about if you take items A, B and C, and I’ll get items D, E and F?”) For most divorcing spouses, this technique is sufficient.

In high-conflict cases, however, more formal mechanisms, such as those listed by David A. Hoffman here, are sometimes needed.

Sometimes the parties will select one of these processes. They are all interesting, useful and clever.

More often than not, the tired spouses will say, “Really? Do we really have to do this?” Most of the time, they will then figure out how to swallow enough pride and hurt to adopt their own “good enough” solution, which is usually good enough to end this unique form of pain.

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