Even in contested cases that have to be decided by a judge, most parties manage to decide between themselves how to divide the relatively small items of personal property. Nonetheless, the phrase “they battled down to who got the last teaspoon” reflects the intensity of emotion that can come with divorce.
Even couples who are relatively amicable when splitting up usually manage to find a few pieces of property to fight over. The individual piece of property often is not truly important by itself, but it comes to represent the frustrations of a relationship that has failed. Perhaps it is easier to obtain an emotional release from fighting over some object than focusing on the underlying personal characteristics that caused the marriage to end.
If the parties truly cannot resolve a dispute over personal property, a judge can do it for them, but that normally is not a cost effective way to resolve the issue. If the judge does have to resolve the dispute, the judge will consider the same factors discussed earlier in the section on dividing marital or community property. In addition, the judge may consider who acquired the property, who uses the property, and whether the property has a special connection to the original family of one spouse.