How do household items get divided in a divorce? Usually the big ticket items, like the house, car, and pensions can be valued and a fair settlement reached. For instance, the Kelly Blue Book price of a car can be used to derive a value and one party can pay the other party their half share.
Often, however, smaller household items are more difficult to separate – the three TVs, 2 sofas, 3 beds, 2 sets of cutlery etc. While it is possible for two parties to sit down and agree on a division, it can often be difficult to split possessions in the heated atmosphere of a divorce.
One way to ensure a fair division is the so-called A/B list. In this process, one party prepares two lists of items that he or she thinks may fairly divide the household assets. The other party is then free to choose either List A or List B. Parties are then free to exchange items on their respective list by mutual agreement.
Notice that this system means the list preparer will be unlikely to put all the “good stuff” on one list because if the list is unbalanced the list selector will choose that list. Thus the division is likely to be fairly even.
In my case, I asked for an A/B division and the judge ordered it. My ex then failed to prepare the list, was re-ordered to do so by the judge, prepared a list and then withdrew the list before trial. After a five hour trial, my lawyer suggested dropping the list all together because the judge was threatening to extend the trial into another day (perhaps postponing the divorce for another six months). I agreed in order to finalize the divorce on the day (and end extortionate temporary support payments) but received no household items (other than those in my possession that I had managed to throw in my car when I moved out.
I think this illustrates the dynamic nature of divorce proceedings and how a lengthy (and thus costly) legal process can sometimes trump other considerations (such as the right to half your household property).