The immortal George Carlin once said, “That’s the whole meaning of life, trying to find a place for your stuff. That’s all your house is, just a place for your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”

In the context of Family Law, the topic of personal property is rarely discussed and consistently dismissed by the court and counsel. It is clear that both view personal property as being simply stuff. In fact, it has been assigned multiple euphemisms to it in order to deflate its relative importance. We have all heard the dismissive terms: chachka; accoutrement; trinket; fixture; knick knack; and of course, whatnot- a word specifically designed to describe all the things the item is actually not. In addition, there is often such contempt for personal property that we have created an amalgamation, personalty, simply in hopes of accelerating the process of distributing it by reducing the length of the term, itself.

Continue Reading Personal Property: From Picayune to Precious, Distributing the Immaterial Possession

Mark Ashton, a partner in our Exton (Chester County), Pennsylvania office and the editor of our Pennsylvania Family Law Blog, wrote a terrific post of the valuation of personal property on that blog. 

To read the entirety of Mark’s post, click here.

In New Jersey, and probably elsewhere, the last things that judge’s really want to get involved in is the division of personal property.  In most cases, the time spent wont justify it.  Some of the ways that personal property issues are resolved are as follows:

1) the alternate selection method (i.e. each party alternates picking until there is nothing left)

2) one party makes two supposedly equal lists and the other party gets to choose the list they want.

I have also heard of cases where, for a particular item or items, the parties had an auction between themselves on the item (particularly when the cannot agree upon a value.)

The bottom line is that these issues are best resolved between the parties, acting reasonably and rationally.