Division of assets in a divorce

How will our household contents or chattels be divided

By Vanessa Lloyd Platt
Lloyd Platt & Co

During the course of a divorce or separation, household contents are normally left to the last minute if a house has to be sold or transferred. This does not mean that household contents cannot become the subject matter of litigation.

The basic rule in relation to household contents is that if presents have been given for weddings etc, then normally they are given back to the party whose family or friends provided them. This is all well and good when this applies to chattels, although sometimes parties can become very attached to chattels and want to keep them.

What are classed as Chattels?

Chattels can include white goods in the home, sofas, televisions, beds, bedding, cutlery, crockery etc. It can also descend into much smaller items to become a matter of principle between couples. Courts are very reluctant to get into arguments concerning chattels.

We all know that principles can become exceedingly expensive, and in most cases the courts will ask that the parties agree to items to be divided between them. However, if the parties simply cannot agree there are other methods for dealing with this namely:

  1. Should a schedule of chattels be drawn up between the parties and then negotiated through solicitors or mediators?
  2. Can pets be regarded as chattels? The answer to this is that in law pets are regarded as chattels and treated in the same way as a fridge/freezer, television etc. Pets are therefore dealt with in a way where the Court will look at who provided the money for the purpose of the chattel and will consider that that person should be awarded the pet. However, many disputes have recently arisen over division of pets if children become attached to them.

Fair division

Lawyers would suggest that the parties should try, if at all possible, to agree a schedule of chattels or matrimonial assets to aid fair division by either videoing them or taking photographs of them. Sometimes chattels or marital assets consist of collections of silver, pictures, or collections of many kinds. If the chattels cannot be agreed that the matter will be referred to court.

In most cases chattels or available assets in divorce are capable of being divided by agreement and accordingly the courts are not often troubled with the division. However, sometimes the value of items can be brought into account, for example if there is a very expensive Chanel handbag collection, or a very valuable wine collection acquired over a period of time.

Items that have been brought into a marriage by one party will usually be retained by them. Items that are personal property of one party i.e. books, clothes etc will normally be retained by that party.

Jointly owned properties, excluding the matrimonial home, and other family assets are more difficult but there are ways in which division and easy transfer of property can be achieved. For example, a list of items can be created, then a coin can sometimes be tossed, and the winner can select an item which can rotate until all items have been selected.

If the chattels have value and they are needed to meet the needs of one of the parties, the court could order their sale to raise funds to meet those needs. Courts generally only require items above £500 or higher to be taken into account.

Difficulties faced when dividing

There are difficulties that the court can also encounter in dealing with chattels. One area that often comes into account is the question of the engagement ring. In the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1970 Section 3(2) of the Act provides that engagement rings are presumed to be an absolute gift and to be retained by the recipient.

There is an exception to this if the item was a family heirloom that was intended to be passed through the generations, and it will then be argued that it should be returned.

If the parties cannot reach agreement over contents, then a Judge will have to determine the position. The Courts can divide the items in whatever manner it chooses. Courts are not necessarily interested in sentimental attachment.

This is particularly so if the value of the items is outweighed by the cost of the lawyers arguing. It is very important that parties understand the commercial value of what they are arguing about so that they sensibly work out how matters can be dealt with.

There have been cases where parties were arguing for months about who should keep the photo albums. These can be easily replicated with agreement being reached over the cost of replication.

Sometimes the Judge will simply order that everything should be sold in order to reach a fair outcome. With artwork it is often the case that the court will invite the parties to pick one or two items if agreement cannot be agreed and order the remaining pictures to be sold.

How Lloyd Platt & Co can help

Lloyd Platt & Co provides expert legal guidance on the intricate process division of assets in a divorce, separation or civil partnership dissolution. Our seasoned team understands that every case is unique, necessitating a tailored approach to asset split. We meticulously assess the financial circumstances of each party, considering factors such as joint finances, inheritance, other assets, and income needs.

Through either mediation or legal advice, we strive to achieve a fair breakdown that addresses the financial resources and needs of both spouses. Whether pursuing a clean break or seeking a consent order agreement, we navigate clients through the complexities of divorce and finances, ensuring a comprehensive financial settlement that safeguards their interests.

Our guidance extends to wills and divorce, providing clarity and security for the future. With Lloyd Platt & Co, clients receive a reliable guide through the financial aspects of divorce, empowering them to navigate this challenging time with confidence and clarity.

If you and your ex-partner are in a quandary about how your chattels should be divided, or if there might be a dispute concerning your loved pet, please do not hesitate to get in contact with Lloyd Platt & Co who have much experience in dealing with such cases.

Read more about this topic in our articles on Hiding money during a divorce, The need to disclose in divorce cases, Sharing Pensions, Hiding assets in a divorce and see our Guide on how to get a divorce for more information on the divorce process.

If you want to discuss any aspect of divorce and separation, including division of assets in a divorce, please fill in our form below, call us on 0208 343 2998 or click to contact our divorce lawyers in London.

Got a Legal Problem?

Table of Contents

Follow Us

Recent Posts

Pension Sharing
Financial Settlement on Divorce

Pension Sharing

A guide to understanding the basics of pension sharing by Vanessa Lloyd Platt, Lloyd Platt & Co Divorce or separation can be

How to deal with Parental Alienation
Children and Parenting Issues

How to deal with parental alienation

By Vanessa Lloyd Platt, Lloyd Platt & Co Increasingly, in matrimonial cases, we are finding that there are allegations of alienating behaviour.

financial settlement in a divorce
Financial Settlement on Divorce

Financial settlement in a divorce

Does the court need to be involved if you can agree a financial settlement By Vanessa Lloyd Platt, Lloyd Platt & Co

Vannessa's Tips on YouTube

Make an Initial Enquiry

Make an Initial Enquiry
Scroll to Top