What happens to gifts and heirlooms in a divorce?

What happens to gifts and heirlooms in a divorce?

Going through a divorce is never easy and it comes with a lot of disruption, emotion and tension. This can be further exacerbated when it comes to the sharing of possessions and trying to work out who owns what and who should be entitled to certain things. Here is a guide to what happens when it comes to dividing up possessions.

There are some items that have been gifted to a couple or been inherited and these often include items of huge sentimental value, if not monetary value. Does it need to descend into arguments or animosity? Where does each party stand?

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During divorce proceedings, any items worth over £500 must be declared. This might include objects like watches, jewellery, appliances, electricals, ornaments, cars or artwork, for example. Parties are not normally required to sell such items to raise additional funds on which to live and it is usual for couples to decide amongst themselves who receives what. For help from a Solicitor Gloucester, go to www.deeandgriffin.co.uk

In reality, it is usually quite straightforward to work out who owns what when a couple separates. Anything that was jointly owned, such as furniture from a family residence is then individually decided on as to who gets what. Agreement should always be sought and if parties can remain calm and not get angry, then mediation is not usually required.

When it comes to specific items like engagement rings, these are always presumed to have been given as gifts unless a specific condition was set upon the giving of the ring. It can be difficult to prove that any such verbal contract occurred and as such, the engagement ring will normally remain with the recipient.

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The same applies to any objects that are gifted during the marriage. Unless it can be proven that conditions were applied to the gift, in that it would be returned on separation, gifts are deemed as belonging to the recipient. This is why some couples choose to have a prenuptial agreement in place before marriage. Whilst these are not always given legal recognition, evidence of prenuptial agreement would provide a level of proof that conditions were in place before a gift was given.

Heirlooms are items that have been passed down through generations of a family. They are often treated differently to gifts as heirlooms can be quite valuable. Gifts are not normally counted in the division of assets but heirlooms often will be. One of the most important aspects to the court is ‘sharing’ and the court will look for all assets to be shared equally unless there is a strong enough reason to justify deviating from this.

The court takes the view that as an heirloom belongs to a certain side of the family and the intention is to pass it down the line of that family, then the heirloom should stay with the person who inherited it. However, heirlooms might be awarded to the other party if there is a discrepancy in the amount that is needed for that person to live on.

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