Practical Tips for Handling Marital Assets During Separation

Uncontested Divorce Mediation

Posted December 11, 2020

When you file for divorce, the court puts an automatic restraining order on assets. This rule was established to protect spouses from the other draining accounts or selling property before marital assets can be split. Of course, this isn’t a problem for all separating spouses and many find the rule more inconvenient than protective.

The good news is that the restraining order is not an account freeze – you can still pay bills and make financial decisions during Denver divorce mediation. But separating or personally claiming marital property is trickier. Especially if you’re planning to separate. Moving out means establishing a whole new household – which will need furniture and supplies. With the financial restraining order on, can you take property out of the house? Can you claim furniture, kitchen utensils, and other items before your assets are legally split?

For spouses separating amicably, the answer is yes. You can separate, moving out with marital assets, as long as you’re careful to adhere to the purpose of the financial restraining order.

Can You Move Out with Marital Assets?

Spouses who are not in conflict about asset separation can separate households before the Denver divorce mediation is finalized. The court order is only necessary to prevent reckless or retaliatory spending, buying, and selling. The order may also be considered to prevent stealing from the marital assets before they can be assayed.  But if you agree on how the household items should separate (or don’t care beyond practicality), then yes. You can move out with marital assets, even when accounts are restrained.

The reason for this is simple. If you are not fighting, it’s assumed any furniture or kitchen gear taken to the new house are still available to be assessed and re-distributed between spouses if necessary.

Document the Household Contents & Furniture

Before you start packing the fine china, remember to document the marital assets. Take a thorough photo-tour of your house and tag or label each photo with the assets it features. Take pictures of all the furniture, drapes, and decor. Be sure to shoot pictures of any costly items like jewelry or power tools, as these are also essential in how assets are split.

Walk around with your camera and snap photos of the house, documenting all the furniture and personal items. This will help to accurately redistribute furniture later when the final marital assets terms are settled.

Quickly Determine Personal (Pre-Marital) Assets

In your asset documenting, be sure to note anything that came with each person before the marriage. Personal inheritance may also be considered separate. So any antique family furniture or even just your pre-marital card tables can safely leave the house when household separation begins.  So take the time to actually document which assets are personal or marital. This can seriously simplify your household separation, depending on how much furniture and other items came into the marriage instead of being purchased during. 

It’s important to document personal items so that they don’t accidentally get wrapped up in marital assets. Using this different for separation only makes that easier.

Pre-Determine the Furniture Split

Of the furniture you’ve bought since the marriage, now is as good as any to decide who keeps the vanity dresser and who keeps the dining room table. You will want to roughly value each furniture item that the moving-out spouse could benefit from. Consider what is practical to remove and what is practical to move with. In addition, you can roughly sketch the marital-asset value of any furniture you do decide to leave with.

If you make smart decisions that are easy to bargain, then you can pre-split many of the household items before the big rush to distribute home property at the end of the process.

Decide If Wardrobe is an Asset

It’s only natural that each spouse will take their own clothes – but are they an asset? That depends on the wardrobe. Someone’s closet of t-shirts and jeans likely isn’t worth valuing or bargaining over. But a closet of tailored suits or evening gowns would be considered part of the marital asset value. That’s okay, you can still take your own clothes out of the house and continue to wear them while separated.  But if your wardrobe is valuable enough to be an asset,  be sure to document it before leaving with the suits.

Don’t Sell or Destroy Anything Big

Most importantly, the court restraining order keeps both spouses from making any serious financial changes. This means no selling property (or home assets) and no big purchases or investments during the Denver divorce mediation. Don’t sell the house, don’t buy a new car, and don’t suddenly spend a chunk of savings on a big vacation. What you can do is continue to pay the bills and generally manage your finances.

If circumstances mean you must make a big financial change, get the approval of the court first. With your spouses’ agreement and a good reason, you can buy a car, for example, during Denver divorce mediation. You just need to clear it, first.

Be Prepared for a Last-Minute Property Shuffle

Lastly, after you’ve moved out with a few marital assets as furniture and supplies for the separation, be prepared for changes. During negotiations, you may rearrange which piece of furniture or equipment goes to whom. The dresser snagged for the separation household may need to go back to your ex in return for getting something else in the Denver divorce mediation agreements.

So if you snag marital property for separation moving-out, be prepared to give it back or claim different furniture when the negotiations are over. The good news is that practical couples can usually ensure that pre-claimed furniture winds up on the correct side of the column, so there shouldn’t be much of a shuffle if you’re smart at the mediation table.

Contact a Divorce Mediation Expert in Denver Today

Can you move out and take a few marital assets with you for separation? Yes. As long as you document those items, don’t sell or destroy anything, and are ready for a re-shuffle, there should be no problems. For everything that is complicated, we can help. Contact Split Simple today for a simple separation with Split Simple.

Split Simple

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Denver, CO 80202

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