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Dividing family heirlooms in a divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2023 | Property Division |

There are many difficult aspects to divorce, but property division may be particularly likely to spark a dispute. This may be especially true when there are family heirlooms involved.

Property division overview

California is a community property state, meaning that generally any assets and debts the spouses obtained during the marriage are jointly owned by both. This includes income, real estate, cars and other property.

In theory, this means that community property can be divided equally in divorce. In practice, the division isn’t exactly a 50/50 split.

Property that was owned by either party before the marriage or was given to them as a gift or inheritance may not be divided because it is considered separate property.

Family heirlooms

A family heirloom may include jewelry, art, furniture or other items, usually passed down through a family. These items may have monetary and sentimental value. It may be helpful to have an appraisal to determine how much the heirloom is worth.

These items are often considered to be separate property, but that is not always the case.

If the parties cannot agree whether to allow one spouse to have the item or to sell it and divide the proceeds, they may decide to use mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party can facilitate a discussion between the parties with the goal of reaching an agreement.

If mediation is not successful, they still have the option to go to court. If the parties need help with property division or other aspects of divorce, there is assistance available.


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