Division of Personal Property: Salad Spinners and Other Tall Tales

Hi there,

Every divorce is different, but they all follow similar emotional paths through the divorce process. One psychological similarity is that every divorce has a flash point.

Many, many years ago when I was a brand new divorce attorney, I represented a woman who had been married relatively briefly to a fairly wealthy gentleman.  He had issues (no need to tell what they were, but they were embarrassing) and consequently felt very, very guilty and wanted to get the divorce over quickly.

As a result, he settled for more than was necessary for a gentlemen in his circumstances.  The attorney on the other side (who was older and wiser than I) suggested I help the parties divide the personal property in their very expensive Boston condominium.  Not knowing any better, I said “sure.”  We walked into the condo and the division went beautifully!  They agreed on the furnishings, art, antiques, wine collection, silver, china and crystal (with my client taking the lioness’ share).

Then we came to the kitchen and an $11.95 plastic salad spinner.  They went to war.

Every bad thing ever said or done in the relationship spilled out.  I had visions of the fabulous settlement going away because they were so furious.  It took me at least a half an hour to get them to listen to me.  Finally the husband conceded and we left with my client clutching the salad spinner to her chest.

We were standing waiting for the elevator and she shoved it at me saying, “Here take it.  I didn’t really want it.  It was just the principal of the thing.”

Every case has a salad spinner because in every case both parties have unexpressed anger and trigger points.  Beware of yours and or your spouse’s because the salad spinner can derail a settlement.

This is why NO experienced divorce lawyer ever agrees to be present when personal property is divided.




  1. Emotional outbursts easily occur especially between couples who failed to save their relationship and just like the story, sometimes it really isn’t all about taking possession of the things you own but more on emphasizing your rights.

  2. My salad spinner story involves a toothbrush. Great post, I enjoyed reading.

  3. Thank you, Kysa. I really like your blog. And your law school!

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