Divorcing? You can protect the stuff in your home when you're not

Divorce is a difficult time for anybody wading through the emotional and physical detachment of a dying relationship. What may have started out as an amicable agreement to part ways can devolve into a lengthy process of name calling, finger pointing and a tug of war over property.

Whether you were told to, agreed to or forced to, you might be moving out of the family home. When that thought sets in, you might realize that your spouse is going to be alone with the china, jewelry, high-end electronics and the priceless collection of art work.

Even if you are not permitted to take the items you believe are at risk for damage by a distraught soon-to-be-ex, you can take steps to protect your interests from an emotionally and physically destructive episode. Use your smart phone or digital camera to take a detailed inventory of everything.

How to make a time-sensitive record

When you learn that you will be moving out, spend some time taking a picture of everything of value in the home before you leave. Buy a printed newspaper and snap pics of your furniture, carpets, crystal, etc. with the paper in the shot. This will help to time stamp the picture and will make it more difficult for the other side to argue about existing condition of property at a later date.

Once you have all your pics, backup the file in multiple places. Use cloud storage such as DropBox or Carbonite to ensure the file cannot disappear, even if your phone does. Send copies to your attorney and your insurance company.

What should get inventoried

If you think it might have value, take the shot. Include everything in the garage, the garden shed, pool area and landscaping. Record the state of the physical house whether you will sell or keep it. Windows are particularly susceptible to a temper tantrum, so take your time to record cracked and chipped panes.

If there is a library of books of particular value, create a catalogue of titles along with a photo. If you have signed sports memorabilia, take a shot. Even tailored clothing, designer shoes and handbags should be added when their tags are pricey.

When to take inventory

If you have children, try to avoid doing the documentation while they are around. They don't need you to create trust issues where they may never experience them. This divorce is between the two adults, leave the kids out of it.

Obviously, if you are worried about what might happen when you leave, taking the pictures in front of your spouse isn't wise, either. Besides avoiding emotional strife, complete the task as soon as possible.

Maybe you'll never need the photos, but "safe than sorry" is a good approach in these situations.

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