Guide to Divvying up Sentimental Items in a Divorce

Posted by Josh Valentine | Dec 16, 2020

Going through a divorce is never easy, but splitting up a lifetime of memories can be even more challenging. In many cases, dividing your real estate, retirement and investment accounts, or bank balances is so much easier. After all, splitting a bank balance down the middle is straightforward and unemotional. But divvying up all of the sentimental items you've collected as a couple during your marriage can be challenging.

Dividing Property in North Carolina

In North Carolina, any property or assets a couple acquires during their marriage is typically considered marital property. Both spouses have an equal claim to marital property during a divorce. The same goes for debt acquired during the marriage. However, property that either party brought into the marriage, inherited, or received as a gift is generally treated as separate property and owned only by the spouse that acquired it. 

In many cases, a court will split a couple's marital property equally between the couple. But the court will also consider:

  • Each spouse's income,
  • Property,
  • Debts,
  • Child or spousal support owed from previous relationships,
  • The liquidity of assets,
  • Who will remain in the marital home, 
  • How much each spouse worked to contribute, and
  • A spouse's contribution to the other's education or career.

When dividing property, Gaston and Cleveland County courts typically won't consider actions that led to the end of the marriage, like adultery. However, the courts will consider actions that led to the depletion of marital assets like gambling, compulsive spending, or addiction. 

Dividing Sentimental Items

When it comes to dividing sentimental items from marriage, there is no specific North Carolina law. Instead, a couple should work collaboratively to divide their mementos. Couples should be creative and collaborative.

  • Pick your priorities: Each of you should make a list of the top items you want. You may not even have the same wish list, making division easier and relatively conflict-free. 
  • Give sentimental items to the kids: If you can't decide who should have that christening dress or the first pair of shoes, agree to give them to your children.
  • Share if you can: If you both want the family photo albums, scan all of your photos and set up an online album. If you already have a large digital stash, consider cloud-based storage that you can both access.
  • You can own property jointly: You don't have to sell that vacation home you both love. You can both agree to continue owning it jointly if you think you can do so without conflict. Maybe one of you can pay rent and live in it, or perhaps you can agree to rent it out.

It's most important to communicate and collaborate while you're trying to split up the things most personal to both of you. 

If you're contemplating divorce or have already started the process, you need experienced legal advice. Whether you're in the Shelby or Gastonia area, we can help. Contact Caulder & Valentine online or give us a call and set up a consultation. 

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar