We all know that custody of children and money gets really nasty. It is also really common to argue about returning family heirlooms or Grandma’s ring which the spouse proposed with. However, in a divorce, all kinds of things can get argued over. If a warring couple really can’t agree, a judge can intervene and force you to auction it off so none of you can have.
A “Toilet Seat Divorce” has entered everyday speech meaning a divorce over something that seems quite trivial – i.e. divorcing over a spouse leaving the toilet seat up. But what happens if the toilet seat is the thing you’re arguing over once the divorce is going through? Five years (?) ago, a couple’s divorce came to a sticking point over a toilet seat given to them as a wedding present.
SOLUTION: This particular couple resolved the dispute by deciding the first person to move into their own home would take the seat. An alternative idea would be for one person to take the seat and buy their ex-spouse another identical seat. (Personally we’d take the new one thanks!)
If Christian Grey from 50 Shades were getting divorced, we’d imagine that there was some serious cash to be made from some of his S&M equipment, but for the rest of us, I am not sure how much you would fetch for some fluffy hand cuffs and a used vibrator (Yuk!). Nevertheless, couples do argue over sex toys!
Solution: Whoever’s body it was last in should keep it. Whoever gets it, remember not to take it to the Maldives were sex toys are illegal.
Divorce Lawyer Farhana Shahzady recalls how one couple had finalised all their divorce agreement and then got totally stuck on a picture. Not a Monet or Picasso, just a painting that they both really loved.
SOLUTION: A Reproduction was made and the couple took it in turns to have the picture every other week.
You might remember a craze for Beanie Babies in 1999. Some people thought that buying some of the limited addition ones would actually make them rich (obviously they didn’t). One couple from Las Vegas took the Beanie Babies fad a little too seriously and chose to spend about $2000 on Beanie babies.
SOLUTION: When they could not agree who should own the collection, a judge ordered them to bring them all into court and take it in turns to pick one each until the collection was divided up. The judge personally oversaw the exchange where Maple the Bear was picked first. The rest of us were also able to enjoy the hilarious image of these two grown-ups on the floor divvying up teddies.
Lucy’s story: Our divorce got stuck over our sofas! I felt at the time that the sofas I had fallen for and saved up to pay for should be mine. My ex felt that we should get one each. Our compromise was that I would take them, but he would take more money from the sale of our house to make up for it. To this day, I regret getting so hung up on something so unimportant and just wish we’d taken one each, but at least we were happy with our compromise at the time.
In 2009 there was a survey in Scotland that said that Nectar Points were the second most argued about possessions in a list of contentious items. We presume that Boots Advantage card points, Tesco Club Card points are also in the mix.
SOLUTION: The legal position is that Nectar points can be divided up according to a legal ruling or solicitor’s letter. But given how expensive legal fees are, we suggest that you just let you agree to spend it all on drink for your divorce party. If they still disagree, just let them have it (just make sure you take the stamped coffee card that entitles you that free coffee).
So in conclusion, we hope you can see how ridiculous divorces can get. While you argue over the stuff, you are not free to get on with you life. Talk with someone impartial (and not your lawyer who gets money for disputes) to see if you are losing perspective in the mist of hatred you are feeling.
If you think that in a few years, when you are happily coupled up with someone else, that you will still care about the painting/toilet seat/nectar points/sex toy/actual toy or whatever it is you are stuck over, then just be the bigger person. Let it go.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.