Dividing assets in a divorce can be the hardest part for many people. Not only does this process have a significant financial impact on divorcing spouses, but it can also entail a highly emotional element that complicates matters.
For instance, some of the most contentious assets people fight over are those with little economic value.
What do people fight about?
It makes sense for people to fight about who keeps the house or how much they need to pay to buy out their ex’s share of a business. After all, these properties can hold significant value.
However, it is not unusual for people to fight over things like:
- Wedding china
- Stuffed animal collections
- Costume jewelry
- Pets and animals (which the law considers property in Washington)
Like all community and marital property in this state, these items are subject to community property laws. Unlike more sizable assets, they may not hold much or any economic value. However, they can be at the root of bitter battles because of what they represent.
In some cases, property holds sentimental value; in other cases, one party wants it only because they know the other person wants it, too.
What can parties do?
Considering the potential these items have to cause or exacerbate problems during a divorce, it is crucial to have some strategies for resolving disputes.
First, taking a step back to look at the big picture can be vital. Figuring out property division may not happen in one fell swoop; it could require multiple sessions. Give yourself some space to get perspective on why you are fighting over something; think about what role, if any, it will have in your life in five or 10 years, and let that inform your position in subsequent discussions.
Another option is to work with a mediator. These parties can facilitate communication and help you negotiate with each other to resolve an argument.
You could also consider leveraging other properties. If you are committed to keeping a specific item, you may need to give up something the other person wants.
Setting your priorities
Before you get caught up in arguments, talk to your attorney about your priorities in your split. If a property with low economic value is on this list, identifying this from the beginning can help you think clearly and refrain from emotionally-driven demands that you might later regret.