Comedians Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold got married in 1990 and divorced in 1994, citing irreconcilable differences. Now, almost 20 years later, those irreconcilable differences appear to have roared back to life, courtesy of Twitter, where the former spouses recently engaged in a “twitter feud” over wedding videos and other marital property.
The gist of it? In response to Arnold’s initial tweet above, here’s the tweet-by-tweet replay:
Roseanne is apparently outraged that her ex-husband may be tossing their old wedding videos in the garbage, as well as still feeling upset about another item, a sewing machine of her mother’s, that was apparently discarded sometime after their split.
The “teachable moment” from this celebrity spat? When objects have sentimental value, it’s easy to see why it can be upsetting even two decades post-divorce to think about these items now being considered “trash.” Other than venting on Twitter, however, would Roseanne have much legal recourse if she decided to formally request these items back? Unless Arnold was hiding these items from her, or misrepresented that they were lost or stolen if she had requested them during their 1994 divorce proceedings, the answer is probably no.
This is why it’s so important to accurately account for property at the time of a divorce.
Generally, the most effective way to divide sentimental property is to make a list of what you want to take with you after the divorce, and have your spouse do the same. Exchange lists and negotiate the items you both want to come up with a final, mutually-agreed division of items. Yes, some spouses can put up a fight over the toaster and make this process as painfully dragged out as possible. To keep the process moving, see our blog on “Tips for Successful Divorce Negotiations.”
Remember, too, that in this day and age of technology, there is no reason to fight over family photos. If they are not digital photos, just scan the originals to make copies. When it comes to things like who gets the living room rug or who gets the microwave, some couples even decide to just flip a coin and be done with it.
If you brought personal property into the marriage or personally inherited an item, these items will generally be considered separate property and not subject to division. If you purchased items during your marriage, these items will be considered marital property, and are subject to division, unless you have a prenuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement stating otherwise.
Whatever you decide to do with sentimental items from your marriage, just get it in writing now as part of your divorce settlement. After all, you don’t want a Twitter feud 20 years from now, do you?
Here is Tom Arnold’s final thought on the matter: