Family heirlooms are valuable not only in their monetary worth, but also their sentimental value. This often makes them a very sensitive issue during a divorce. How to go about protecting heirlooms from property division during divorce is quite complicated because it’s dependent upon multiple factors, including how you acquired the items and whether or not they were kept as separate property throughout your marriage.
How Assets are Divided during a Divorce
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement about how to divide your assets and debts, that’s wonderful. Your lawyer can draw up your agreement and it’s quite likely the judge will OK it. You might agree, for example, that you can keep your grandmother’s china collection and your ex can keep the tractor. Many couples cannot reach an agreement amicably, though. When that’s the case, a judge will have to decide how to divide the marital property fairly.
Generally, assets you acquired prior to marriage, personal injury settlements, and gifts and inheritances that were given solely to you and kept separate during the course of your marriage will be considered personal property and not subject to division. Family heirlooms may be personal property if they meet these specifications.
The judge will look at whether or not your spouse contributed to the value of your personal property. If your personal property commingled with marital property, your spouse may be entitled to half of the value of the gains.
Protecting Your Family Heirlooms
The first thing you want to do when preparing for divorce and property division is to take an inventory of your valuables, as well as create a detailed list of all your personal and marital assets and liabilities. Take photos of and get an appraisal on your heirlooms and other assets so you’ll have a clear understanding of what you’re working with and with what you have to negotiate. If you have any documents that prove the gifts were given to you, now is the time to start collecting those.
You might try to talk to and negotiate with your ex, but unfortunately, spite rears its ugly head in many cases. Your spouse might suddenly start showing an interest in your family heirlooms when he knows how much they mean to you or what their value is. Mediation may help.
To protect your family heirlooms during a divorce, you’ll want to have an attorney help you with negotiations and property division. Our firm handles all types of divorce cases, assisting with negotiation, mediation and litigation. Call our office, The Texas Divorce Lawyer, today at 214-290-8001 for help with your case.