“It’s not fair,” the client says. “It’s the law,” responds the attorney.  There are certain truisms when it comes to personal property and the equitable distribution  process in North Carolina:

  • Judges do not like to spend court time valuing and dividing up personal property like furniture, garden tools, decorations, and clothing.
  • Lawyers, even though they are paid to help you work out the issues, don’t like spending their time or your money arguing over personal property like furniture, garden tools, decoration, and clothing.
  • For purposes of court action and settlement, the price paid for an item of personal property is not usually the value at which it will be assigned.

Every lawyer I know has a story about a fight over personal property spinning out of control.  One story I like to recount is a fight I heard about over a particularly common and inexpensive set of  stainless steel flatware that the couple had been using for the fifteen years of their marriage.  This used flatware is the kind of thing you might find for $10.00 at a yard sale on any Saturday morning.     The parties and their lawyers argued about if for a couple of hours at a mediation.   The combined cost to the parties including their attorneys’ fees and mediator costs was close to $1,000.

The lesson is simple, if you are involved in a fight over personal property try to find a way to resolve it.



Scott Allen is a divorce attorney in Raleigh, NC with over eighteen years of experience in all areas of family law litigation and settlement.