Get a Grip and Let Go!

Personal property includes, but is not limited to, cash, savings accounts, checking accounts, stocks, bonds, jewelry, antiques, collectibles and pets. The personal property of individuals may be separate or marital and subject to distribution in a divorce. The term personal property does not include real estate or that which is affixed to it.

Personalty, a subset of personal property, is a person’s stuff, as the late George Carlin put it — the things people accumulate during a lifetime– chattels, including clothing and furnishings.

The spouses should divide all personalty. These goods, as economists call them, that people accumulate lose almost all value the moment they the leave the store. As a rule of thumb, almost anything bought in a mall, anything that is plugged in, uses batteries, anything for the house goes for yard sale prices when it is sold. These are the things “you do not need but cannot live without,” as one wag put it — the “unnecessary necessities,” as Mark Twain called them, that help drive America’s consumer economy.

Divorcing couples hurt and bleeding from the pain and suffering of a marital failure, sometimes foolishly battle for possession of nearly worthless items that somehow have a symbolic meaning. That warped Bob Dylan album bought during the happier times of the marriage — the one that has not been played in ten years because neither spouse owns a working stereo — takes on great symbolism because possession suggests vindication.

Couples should stand back and get a grip — and let go. Possession of these relics of a failed marriage vindicates no one, and paying a lawyer to fight for a useless record, or the fourth set of dishes that have been stored in a rental box since they displaced the third set, dissipates money both spouses need to start a new life.

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