When a divorce action is filed, most courts will enter temporary orders. If you are still living with your spouse, the temporary orders usually dictate which one of you will stay in the marital home while the divorce is pending and which one of you will go stay elsewhere. Before you file for divorce and ideally before you or your spouse moves out of the home, you should take a video inventory of the home—whether you are the one staying in the home. The video inventory should cover each part of your home, including outbuildings, garages, vehicles, etc.

Why Should You Do This?

1. People don’t always follow court orders.
When a divorce case is filed, it is standard practice for the court to issue “restraining” orders directing both parties not to dispose of any property. This is intended to prevent one party from selling or throwing away property. However, emotions run high in divorce cases, and people don’t always pay attention to court orders when they are hurt and angry. If one person sells or destroys property, the video can show that the item existed and what condition it was in.

2. Use the video to create a property list for settlement negotiations.
If you are the one living outside of the marital home, it is going to be very hard to remember everything that is in the home a couple months down the road. With a video, you eliminate the need to guess what was in your living room.
3. The video will protect you against allegations of wrongdoing.
If you stay in the home and your spouse tries to accuse you of wrongly disposing of property, you will have video evidence of whether or not the item at issue existed and was present in the home.

4. Costly disputes during later property settlement negotiations can be avoided.
It may be necessary to assign value to your personal property during settlement negotiations to ensure a fair and just distribution of property. If there is any large disagreement about the value or condition of an item, the video can provide the best documentation of the condition of the item. This can help save you money by avoiding costly disagreements.

Many insurance companies advise their customers to take video inventories of their homes, so you might find more resources and tips on how to take a good home inventory on your home owner’s insurance company’s website. There are a lot of inventory programs available. Here is a free one: https://www.knowyourstuff.org. The more work you do on the inventory, the less work your attorney has to do. And that will ultimately save you money in attorney’s fees and help ensure a fair division of property in your divorce settlement.

For more pre-filing divorce tips, make an appointment for a consultation with one of our family law attorneys in Wichita, Kansas City, Lawrence & Topeka!