Determining how to divide the cash, investments and real estate during a divorce is fairly straightforward compared to the challenge of sorting through personal possessions. So much emotion can be attached to the small things in the household that the larger goals of fairly and calmly dissolving the marriage bond can be lost.

Although the couple can ask for help from their respective attorneys to divide every bit of the marital of the estate that solution can be very expensive. Not only will there be attorney fees and court costs, experts on valuation may also need to be retained and paid.

Here are some strategies to make the task of sharing the treasured between the parties fair and less stressful and expensive. Keep in mind that it may be necessary to use more than one of these ideas to divide all the possessions.

Talk It Through

If possible the best approach is to have a frank discussion between the parties to decide who is best suited to each possession. This conversation is best done directly between the spouses as only they truly understand the history behind each article.

This approach can be successful if there is no power imbalance. A good first step before the meeting it to have each spouse prepare a list in descending order, from items each really wants down to the things that are easily given up.

Make logical decisions based upon what each person brought into the marriage and which spouse bought or actually uses each item. Try to eliminate obvious items quickly and without rancor.

Make a sincere effort to divide the majority of possession in this way, being as open and inclusive of information as possible. If some items are just impossible for either to release use one of the other tips below to take care of these last details.

The List Flip

When a few nagging items remain or if a discussion is impossible for any reason the parties should independently list all items in contention. Those lists are then combined.

The next step is to use something like a coin flip to decide which spouse will divide the items into two equitable lists. Once the lists are made by that spouse the spouse who did not create the list has the choice between the two lists.

Bid On It

For items that have substantial monetary or sentimental value try this before going to court. An independent party can help with this if necessary.

Make a list of items that have not been otherwise divided. Each item in contention is bid upon by the spouses directly or in sealed envelope. The item goes to the higher bidder.

As the process continues a balance sheet should be kept showing the values each spouse has received. If one or the other receives a higher self-valued amount the difference is paid to the other spouse in a cash equivalent. Another alternative could be to revisit the bidding on a couple of items to even out the totals.

Sell The Items

Hold a yard or garage sale for the items and divide up the proceeds. The prices must be agreed upon between the spouses. For items that are more valuable than common household items consider an actual auction. A twist might be to allow each spouse to buy some of the items, but only at the agreed upon price.

Gift Items To Children

A good solution for inherited heirlooms or other treasured items that neither spouse can bear to give up is to give them to the adult children pf the couple. This way each spouse can be assured the item remains in the family. The knick knacks, furniture, clocks, jewelry and the like will remain to be viewed and enjoyed by both spouses when the children are visited.