How to value and divide your household contents and furniture when you split up

Karina Ralston Karina Ralston ||

When dealing with property settlements in Family Law, the Court essentially adopts a four step process to determine the following:

  1. The total value of all assets and liabilities
  2. The financial and non financial contributions of both parties
  3. Whether any adjustments should be made to either party for their future needs
  4. Whether that result is fair and equitable

The common misconception about the value of furniture and household contents is that the value used in property proceedings is the amount the items have been insured for. Unfortunately for most, furniture and household contents are taken at their second hand value. The exception to this is where the household content is considered to be an antique or one of special value. To date, I’m yet to see the value of furniture and household contents exceed a value of $20,000.

The Court is also very reluctant to be involved in how furniture and household items are to be divided. If you can’t reach an agreement, the Court will often adopt a “two list” approach where one party will draft the two lists dividing the items and the other will choose one of the lists.

The Court may intervene for particular items where it is clear that they belong to one of the parties (as a gift or inheritance) but in nearly all cases the parties themselves need to agree.

In the worst case scenario, if there can’t be an agreement, involves the Court ordering that all items be sold and the proceeds divided.

It is rare that property law proceedings run as smoothly and easily as one would hope however, having up-to-date and accurate valuations of the net asset pool and attempting to negotiate a fair division will likely help you to achieve a more efficient and smooth property settlement.


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