Hands down, a KitchenAid stand mixer. What is it with the stand mixer? These things take up a huge percentage of kitchen counter surface area and are probably used five times a year, at best.
But they’re constantly fought over, to the tune of thousands of dollars.
While the stand mixer is the most prominent example I remember, it’s indicative of something I see quite often that drives up the price of cases. Stuff. Appliances, pots and pans, the TV, tools. Unless it’s something that has added intrinsic value to you, it’s all replaceable.
It’s easy to get caught up in what is “yours” and what is “theirs” in the high-conflict realm of divorce, but when one hour of your attorney’s time costs just as much as the stand mixer, you’ve got to be mindful of what you’re fighting over.”
The craziest thing I ever saw a couple fight over was a wok and a paella pan for more than an hour.
Both had culinary backgrounds, and the fight over these two instruments in a settlement meeting probably led to an extra $700 worth of fees between the two attorneys sitting there while the clients were ridiculing each other’s cooking skills.
And of course, the $700 in fees could’ve bought woks and paella pans for the litigants and the attorneys, but they had to have their “one last fight.”
Honestly, you would think a divorcing couple would spend the most time and money arguing over their children, their most precious resource. Sadly, some couples waste money arguing over money and doing things to spite one another rather than making real progress in negotiations.
In one of my cases, the couple took out protective orders against one another for harassment, known as “dueling protective orders.” We almost had to go to trial on the protective orders, which were taken out in anger rather than fear, because our settlement discussions broke down right before the trial date.
What was the culprit, you ask? A faded towel set in the downstairs guest bathroom.
Fortunately, a lawyer is a rational guide during a tough time when your emotions may otherwise cause you to sabotage your case. We were able to settle the matter.
Not that it matters, but my client got the towels.
I recently had a case where the parties pretty much agreed on absolutely everything. The divorce could have been done quickly with minimal cost.
However, the parties had a really hard time with the personal property division, and while they were able to figure out how to divide most of it, they ended up fighting over a stir fry pan they’d received as a wedding gift.
Purchased new, it cost about $100. At the time of the divorce, the pan was 7 years old and was basically worthless. The issue was that wife had at first said that husband could have the pan, then she changed her mind and decided she wanted it.
This upset husband who was bound and determined that wife was not going to end up with that pan.
For him, and I hear this a lot, it wasn’t about the value of the pan, but about the principle – he wasn’t going to let her take advantage of him. That principle cost him about $1,000 in my attorney fees.
I once had a case where the parties continued to argue over small personal property items, such as the bed side lamps, plates — even the towels. The combined value of all the items in dispute was probably less than $200.
Both parties ended up spending several thousands in attorney fees and cost as they both refused to compromise on the items. What made matters worse is that all other issues had been resolved.
It even required a trial where the judge admonished them for wasting resources on such petty issues.
In the end, the judge literally split everything in half (you get one lamp, you get the other lamp) and assigned a nominal value to the property to provide either party the opportunity to “buy out” the interest of the other person.
I had a couple hold up entry of a final decree of divorce because they were arguing over who should keep a file cabinet.
The parties had an agreement on the division of household items, and as part of the agreement, the wife was getting the office desk. The wife wanted the file cabinet to be included as part of the desk, the husband said it was separate.
After hours back and forth over a few days, I finally convinced my client that she would be happier with a brand new file cabinet.
This is a good example of when you need to learn to let things go!
If the household item does not hold sentimental value or significant monetary value, let your soon-to-be ex-spouse keep the item. You do not want to spend more money litigating who will keep the item than it is worth.