How to Handle Items with Sentimental Value During a Divorce in Arizona

by | Feb 1, 2023 | Divorce

When going through a divorce in Arizona, an important part of the process is dividing your marital property. Under Arizona’s “community property” law, divorcing spouses must divide their marital property 50-50 in most cases. This focuses on the financial value of the property involved.

But, what about the sentimental value?

While bank accounts and retirement accounts can hold significant financial value, photos and children’s artwork can hold just as much—if not more—sentimental value. Some assets, like the family home, cars, and collections, can hold both. We’ve covered the key considerations involved in dividing marital assets from a financial perspective previously. But, how can (and should) you handle items with sentimental value during your divorce?

5 Options for Handling Items with Sentimental Value During Your Divorce

As with all aspects of the divorce process, there are a variety of ways to handle items with sentimental value during your divorce. Of course, just like the other aspects of your divorce, the options that make the most sense for your individual circumstances will be entirely unique to you. With this in mind, it is important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you explore your options carefully—and who can help you make informed decisions with your wishes, goals, and long-term best interests in mind.

So, how can you handle items that have sentimental value during your divorce? Here are five potential options for different types of property:

1. Make Copies (When You Can)

With certain items, the best approach might be to make copies. For example, many divorcing spouses want to know how they can make sure they keep all of their family photos after their divorce. These days, making copies of photos is pretty easy, and this is often a solution that works for both spouses.

As with all other types of property, when making copies of your family photos, it is important to make sure that you copy all of them during the divorce process. Once your divorce is over, you do not want to discover that you are missing copies of photos you wanted to keep—and then have to go through the process of trying to get copies from your former spouse.

2. Divide Collections (When it Makes Sense)

With some collections that have sentimental value, it may make sense for each spouse to keep some items while giving up others. For example, this is a common way that divorcing spouses handle their children’s artwork. Each spouse can keep half—and, if desired, they can take photos or make copies of the other half during the divorce process.

3. Decide to Part Ways

For many spouses, getting divorced is a time for a fresh start. While it can be difficult to part with items that have sentimental value, in some cases using your divorce as an excuse to move on can be the best solution. For example, let’s say you and your spouse own a vacation home that is important to both of you. While you may want to keep your vacation home after your divorce, you may also be able to move on by telling yourself that you will focus on traveling to new vacation destinations once your marriage comes to an end.

We understand that this can be difficult, and in no way are we suggesting that sentimental attachments should be ignored. Rather, what we are saying is that it is important to give serious consideration to all of the options that are on the table. Neither spouse gets everything in a divorce. This is just the reality. So, if you can find a way to get comfortable with moving on from certain pieces of property, this can help you arrive at a solution that allows you to move forward.

4. Focus on the Financial Value

Focusing on the financial value of a particular asset can also be an effective way to deal with items that have sentimental value for some spouses. Continuing with our example of a vacation home, let’s say you let your spouse keep your vacation home in your divorce. Assuming the circumstances of your divorce call for a 50-50 split, this means that you are entitled to retain other assets of equal value (taking into consideration any mortgage or other loans tied to the property).

Can you use this to pay off the debts you would otherwise continue to carry after your divorce? Can you use it to buy a new vacation home or fund trips around the world? Can you use it to retire early? By focusing on the financial aspects of your property division (when relevant), you may find that you are willing to part with certain items that carry sentimental value as well.

5. Continue to Co-Own the Property After Your Divorce

Another option that works for some couples is to continue to co-own items that have sentimental value after their divorce. Whether for financial or sentimental reasons, in some circumstances it will make sense for divorcing spouses to maintain joint ownership of certain assets. This is primarily the case with real estate.

For example, let’s say that instead of owning a vacation home outright, you and your spouse own a timeshare. You’ve been going to the timeshare for years, and you aren’t ready to give it up. But, your spouse feels the same way. In this scenario, one option might be for you each to continue to own the timeshare and visit it independently after your divorce. Of course, this won’t work for all couples, and there are various financial and practical considerations involved. But, if this is an option that you think might work, it is certainly an option worth discussing with your divorce attorney.

Schedule a Free Initial Divorce Consultation at Weingart Family Law in Tempe, AZ

If you would like to know more about the options for handling items with sentimental value during a divorce in Arizona, we invite you to get in touch. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys in Tempe, please call 480-923-9063 or contact us online today.