The nitty gritty of a separation – who gets what from the house?

Posted on May 2, 2017 by Samantha Miller   |   Categories: Family Law

The time and expense of asking the legal profession to deal with these items usually cannot be justified.  We know that the cost of setting up a new home is high however the Court looks at the value of the contents of the home now which is often negligible.

So how do people sort out exactly who gets what from the house upon separation?

The overriding hope is that the parties to a separation can at least negotiate and compromise without the involvement of others on this front.  As a general rule we suggest that at least the following guidelines are followed:-


  • Possessions a party had prior to co-habitation remain that party’s property;
  • A gift is a gift and belongs to the person to whom it was given no matter who paid for it.  In the case of joint gifts then reference may be had to the giver.  For example a party should be given first right of refusal in relation to a wedding gift given by someone from that party’s side of the family;
  • Engagement rings are considered a gift so the women (usually) must use her discretion in determining whether or not she keeps it. Obviously if the ring was a precious heirloom of the husband’s family it would be considerate to return it;
  • Family heirlooms and inherited items should remain with the relevant family member;
  • Photographs etc if these are in one party’s possession then a copy should be made for the other party; and
  • When all else fails, one party should make two equal lists of the remaining items and the second party must choose which list to retain.