Many engaged couples, once they’ve decided where they will register for wedding gifts, physically go to the store and use a handy little tool to itemize their wish list. Other couples register online and go through pages of inventory to select what they most want, click after click. It’s an exciting process, accompanied by visions of the life you’re building together. Whether you receive every gift you register for or not, when you’re married, two people come together with their own possessions plus their joint possessions – and that includes a lot of stuff. But what happens to all these items in marital property division if you get a Michigan divorce?
A Study in Ownership
Belgian photographer Barbara Iweins, after going through a divorce and moving for the eleventh time, spent five years documenting every object she owns. The result was a catalog of 12,795 items. From rogue LEGO bricks to kitchen utensils to shoes, she took stock of her entire single life.
While Iweins’ motivation for this project was to show reality in a world where people are keen to show the idealized versions of themselves, and to shine a spotlight on materialism, it’s fascinating to think of this ownership in terms of divorce. The number 12,795 seems a little low for one person’s possessions let alone the joint ownership of a couple – or an entire family.
As you begin a divorce though, this number can seem extreme – over 12,000 items to look at and consider in your home and tag as “want” or “don’t want”? Separating your lives through marital property division is a daunting process and one of the most tedious and heartbreaking parts of getting a Michigan divorce is going through your family home and identifying the items that belong to you or noting which joint items you believe you should keep.
Taking Apart a Marriage
Marital property division is part of your divorce negotiations with your ex. The process can turn some people into minimalists and others into individuals who hold tight to objects that have meaning for them. There is no way to predict how you’re going to feel about this separation of your life and possessions until you’re sitting on that couch you bought together or running a hand over that expensive coffee maker you saved up for or looking at every single Christmas ornament made by your children.
Ideally, you and your ex can work together to divide your belongings to save yourself time and legal fees. There are several ways to make this happen.
- Plan: Agree on the method you will use to separate items before you begin the process.
- List and appraise: List all the items of value in your household, whether it’s joint property or not, and hire an appraiser to give value to each item. Take turns saying what each of you want until all the property is divided or you each have an equal number of items.
- Donate: Agree to donate items no one wants or donate if you cannot agree upon ownership.
If you are at the start of a Michigan divorce or looking around your house and trying to imagine how you will pull your life apart, schedule a consultation with Michigan Divorce Help for advice and support.