Dividing the goods on relationship breakdown


Separating from a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner is never an easy decision and the situation can become more fraught when arguments start occurring over who gets to keep certain items within the former family home.

If a couple is divorcing or ending a civil partnership, each party is required to declare any and all personal belongings which have a value of £500 or more, including handbags, watches, jewellery, clothing, and shoes. These items must be considered part of the total marital assets to be considered for division between the parties during the financial disclosure and negotiation process.

With the cost of many designer goods sitting comfortably above the £500 threshold, and more people investing in luxury items, so called ‘Handbag Divorces’ are on the rise. If the value of any assets declared is disputed by one party, professional valuations may be needed to establish their true worth, just as it would with property and other more traditional assets.

The main issue which normally arises is that couples can become so fixated on personal belongings such as handbags and watches, or other possessions with sentimental value, that inevitably their divorce or civil partnership dissolution becomes more acrimonious, lengthy, and expensive. It is very easy for parties to lose sight of the broad picture given the emotional connection they may have to these types of belongings. However, it is important that wherever possible, both parties try to focus on the overall goal which is to end their legal relationship in the most amicable fashion possible and divide the marital assets so that each party (and any children of the marriage) can move on, live as comfortably as possible and look to a fresh start.

At Barker Gotelee our family team do their very best never to lose sight of the big picture and we will always advise our clients on what we feel is the right course of action for them. We offer a fixed price initial consultation to anyone who may be experiencing a relationship breakdown and want to discuss all options available. Contact our team on 01473 611 211 for more information.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Ipswich Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk