Divorce is rarely an easy thing for anyone to go through but sadly it happens to around 42% of couples (according to the Office of National Statistics anyway). If it does happen to you, then at some point in the process you’ll need to sort through your belongings, claim your individual items and decide what to do with any joint belongings. This can be particularly challenging even if the separation is amicable, which is why we’ve gathered some tips to help make things a bit simpler.
It can be tempting to just put off dealing with the storage unit until the dust has settled, especially if you’ve been paying for it by yourself since the separation. But the items inside belong to both of you, and if you don’t declare them during the divorce proceedings then you could be accused of hiding valuable assets. So generally, honesty is the best policy here. Often the contents of storage units are of low resale value, but they have high emotional value to one or both of you, which can make this even more difficult.
If it’s your spouse who has access to the unit and not you, then you need to make it clear to them that the contents of the storage unit are joint belongings to be considered part of the wealth to be split. If you can’t do this amicably, then you need to get a lawyer involved to freeze the contents during proceedings.
If you don’t already have one already, getting a full inventory of the unit contents can be incredibly useful. Not only do you have a complete record of everything that’s in there, but it makes it a lot easier to deal with things that don’t have any other value than emotional value.
Having an inventory makes it clear what’s being stored inside, and where any value might lie, which in turn makes it easier to reach an agreement about who gets what. Start with the simple things and deal with what you can, to make as much progress as you can. When you’re down to the harder things, you can use the inventory to research the value of the item and calmly discuss your options from there.
The added bonus of this approach is that you can’t be accused of hiding anything, and if the courts want to audit the unit they can – with you accompanying them of course.
It can be tempting to just go in with a black bin bag and throw away what you consider a bunch of old junk. It can feel cathartic, especially if the break-up was particularly difficult nd you want to get some revenge, or if you want to avoid the painful memories that comes with it. But that doesn’t mean you should do it! Once you have your inventory, share it with your ex. If they agree to dispose of things, then go ahead. But make sure you have their agreement in writing, just in case.
A lot of storage units have procedures in place to follow when a spouse tried to gain access to a unit during divorce proceedings. These will usually be detailed in your contract, but you should talk to your unit manager about it as well. This can include asking security questions, or waiting for your authorisation before your ex is allowed access. Of course, some storage companies prefer not to get involved at all. As long as the rent is paid up and you both have the proper access codes and keys, they may decide to remain impartial. If the contents of the unit are under dispute, then one of the best things you can do is change the locks and leave the new keys with a neutral party – such as your lawyer’s office – so that access can be restricted to what the courts deem appropriate.
Of course, in an ideal world none of these things would be necessary, but they do happen. At Blue Box Storage we’re here to support you through any life event, whether it’s moving, starting a business or separating from a partner. If you would like more information, or want to find out about your local storage options, just get in touch with the team today.