Divorce: Why Sentimental Items Are Viewed Without Sentiment

Law Blog

It's difficult to quantify the value of a sentimental personal item; you can't easily assign a price to it, because this doesn't reflect the way you value the item in question. This becomes problematic when you and your spouse decide to divorce, and ownership of the sentimental item must be determined. Is it the Family Court who decides who gets to keep the item?

Family Law

Divorce is a facet of family law, and even when there are no children in the marriage (meaning that custody arrangements, child maintenance or a parenting plan are not required), it's favourable that an agreement between both parties is reached during mediation. This agreement pertains to the mutually-agreed division of all assets, including sentimental items.

Asset Division

It's advisable that you engage a solicitor experienced in family law to mediate on your behalf, with both you and your solicitor present during any physical negotiations. These negotiations will determine a fair and equitable of all assets, including but not limited to bank accounts and investments (including superannuation), insurance policies, real estate and the contents of any real estate. Sentimental items are considered in an unsentimental way and are categorised as property along with all other physical possessions. Clearly, the item may hold more special meaning to one party over the other. 

Asset Value

The sentimental items, whether they're heirlooms, photographs or miscellaneous trinkets, must be assigned a cash value. This helps to ensure that the value of assets can be divided in an equitable manner. As mentioned, the cash value may not be an accurate reflection of the sentimental value. If retaining the item is crucial to you, make this a point during your negotiations. Your solicitor can possibly make the item the goal of a reciprocal agreement, wherein you receive the item in exchange for something else your partner may want.

Consent Order

Once a settlement has been reached with the division of all assets, a physical agreement can be drafted and printed. Both parties will sign the agreement, and this is submitted to the Family Court, with the agreement being converted to a consent order. It has now been formalised as part of your divorce, giving clarity as to who gets what.

It can seem cold and perhaps clinical that sentimental items are viewed with an absolute lack of sentimentality in the eyes of the law, but all possessions (assets) are viewed in these terms. If keeping something in particular is important to you, your solicitor can make it a priority during negotiations. 

For more info about family law, contact a local professional. 


29 June 2023

Dealing With Divorce

Hello, my name is Sandra. I live with my two children in Eastern Australia. I have recently come through a very difficult divorce. My ex-partner used to drink too much and he wasn't a very good husband or father. The final straw was when I discovered he was having an affair. I filed for divorce the same day. I knew that getting divorced would be difficult but I didn't realise just how difficult. My husband did all he could to make it hard for me and the kids. Thankfully, I found a fantastic family lawyer who helped me through the entire process. I won custody of the kids and my husband has been asked to pay child support. I decided to start this blog to help others who are going through a divorce.