Tonight’s blog post on “Divorce: The Pots and Pans” is written by our lead attorney in Lawrenceville, John Smith.
I was once told by a Superior Court Judge that one of the most tedious things in any divorce litigation was the division of the “pots and pans.” What he meant was not who retained the marital home or how a retirement account was divided, but literally how the parties’ personal property, their pots and pans, accumulated over years, was “equitably divided” pursuant to Georgia law.
If this process of division is left until trial or even shortly before, it can incur needless attorney time and expense to the client. At times, the labor and cost in dividing the marital personal property late in litigation can outweigh the value of the property itself. For example, you could employ attorneys to argue about who gets the five year old sofa, worth now about $100. If each attorney bills at $250 an hour, if the argument lasts only 20 minutes, you have already spent as much as the property was worth. Usually the personal property arguments, though, last for hours.
A way to avoid such a pitfall is for the parties, perhaps even prior to retaining representation, to make a comprehensive list, room by room, closet by closet, of all their belongings…a master list. Once a master list is created, each party gets a copy and marks what items they wish to keep. If values can be placed on the items that is helpful as well.
There will undoubtedly be items that are in dispute and those can culled and then be placed on a disputed list to be negotiated and reconciled at a later time.
There may be items that are not considered by law to be “marital property” subject to division; for example, items that were one party’s prior to the marriage, inherited items or gifts. However, even these exceptions have exceptions so consulting with an attorney with your list can clarify whether certain items should or can be considered martial property or not.
There may be personal items which are not negotiable. Make a list of those and provide that to your attorney along with why they are special to you. This proactive approach decreases the work of your attorney thereby decreasing your cost and can work to streamline litigation in the event the matter has to be tried.
Remember that the cost of litigation is one thing that should always be considered by all parties both prior to and during any lawsuit.
In Lawrenceville, Gwinnett County, there is a large diversity of families with an equally large need for a variety of legal services and not everyone has the same ability to allocate their resources for a divorce, custody or a child support action.
At the Manely Firm, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of options to meet not only your family law needs but to do so in the most cost effective manner…from preparing potential clients even before a case commences as mentioned above to having a “trial team” for each client comprised of attorneys, paralegals and administrators who are allocated appropriate tasks in each individual case so as to maximize results at the lowest cost possible to you.
I welcome you to call us or stop by with your concerns and questions