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Everything but the kitchen sink?  Why contents and chattels can be a real hurdle in divorce proceedings.

In financial relief proceedings the most valuable assets are usually the equity in property or properties, savings and investments and pensions.

But there are occasions when contents or chattels (i.e. a personal item) can become a real stumbling block.  There are occasions when the division of household contents have been a real sticking point for some clients.

I have been asked to negotiate anything from pets to photographs, clothes to antiques and even down to a dustbin and a dish drainer.

Some items, particularly antique furniture or valuable artwork or jewellery can be of significant value although it is rarely on the same scale as other assets, but it is often not so insignificant that it should be disregarded.

That said, it is these small things that can often cause difficulty because they can have sentimental value and often it is a matter of principle as to who should get what.  Some people feel that they should keep an item if they bought it, or if it was bought for them by family as a gift.  Some feel that they should keep an item if they are more likely to use it or need it going forward.

Whatever the reason, it can be difficult as solicitors to see how much expense is being incurred arguing over these items.  Whilst sometimes they can have a value worth fighting over, that is often not the case.

So how does the court approach this?  Often if there is no agreement a judge may simply say to sell the items and split the proceeds.  That means that first of all neither of the parties benefit from it but secondly, they are likely to get very little for items if they sell them second hand.

How can costs be avoided?  Mediation may be a way to keep costs down when dealing with contentious issues such as this and it can be a cost-effective way to sit down and reach a compromise.  Otherwise, whilst it is important – bear in mind the cost and ensure that you are getting regular cost estimate from your solicitor so that the costs do not outweigh the benefit.

To discuss with us further, contact our Family Solicitor, Sarah Birdsey on [email protected] or call us on 0161 980 6099.