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Handling items of sentimental value when dividing property

Property division is a crucial element of any Pennsylvania divorce proceeding. Generally, the law takes care to ensure that property, possessions and assets are divided equitably. For most tangible property, this is fairly simple as the value of the item can be determined by its market price or by an appraisal. Some assets, however, may have special sentimental or emotional value to one or both spouses. That value is intangible and care must be taken to ensure that a fair outcome is achieved.

Sometimes, the items of strong sentimental value may not be things that also hold a high monetary value. For instance, one spouse may feel very strongly about a book collection. The intrinsic value of the books is very low but their emotional value may be very high to the person. In these instances, it is advisable for the couple to reach a compromise that they can both live with. If the wife takes the book collection, perhaps the husband receives their music collection in return.

Other times, an item may have both a high monetary value and strong sentimental value. Examples of this would include the marital home, jewelry, works of art and antiques. For those items, the Wall Street Journal recommends taking an inventory and having each item appraised. Items of equal value can then be divided between the spouses.

While spouses may have emotional ties to items of sentimental value, they should carefully weigh the cost of the item against the cost of a legal battle to fight over it. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, either the court or an arbitrator will make the ultimate decision. The Huffington Post reports that approximately 95 percent of divorces are settled out of court for this reason. Since there are usually items that are of sentimental value to each spouse, it is often preferable to reach an agreement outside of the courtroom.

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