California is a community property state. In theory, that means that everything a couple owns together gets divided evenly during divorce.
Since you can’t exactly cut a couch in half and nobody wants half of the household’s flatware, that means you and your spouse will need to find a way to divide your household items that’s fair. (The only other alternative is to take the issue to court and let the judge decide who gets to keep what, and that’s both time-consuming and expensive.) Consider keeping these tips in mind as you start splitting up your stuff.
Make an inventory
Before you start to divide anything, go through each room in the house (including the attic, garage and basement) and take an inventory. As long as you and your spouse are in agreement, it’s okay to group “like” items together. For example, the master bedroom set should probably be kept intact, as should the garden tools.
Set aside any items in dispute
If there’s anything that has significant emotional or financial value that you and your spouse both want, agree to set those items aside until they can be valued or you can negotiate further. It may become easier to settle those disputes once the mundane household items are already divided.
Once you’ve inventoried the household items you need to split, each party should take some time to prioritize their wants and needs. Flip a coin (or figure out another way to decide who should pick first) and use your priority list to make strategic choices about what you want to keep.
If you want your divorce to be relatively peaceful, you each need to be reasonably accommodating during this process. If, for example, your spouse is keeping the house and you’re moving to an apartment, it makes no sense for you to demand the lawnmower and other tools. Taking them to just “punish” your spouse makes no sense.
Working out a solid divorce agreement, including a fair division of property, is likely to be easier if you seek experienced legal guidance. Being proactive in this way can help you to resolve your differences with your spouse as efficiently and effectively as possible without compromising your rights.