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What is an A/B List? How does an A/B List assist in resolving conflict in a divorce?

When a couple is getting divorced, it can be a very emotional time for the couple. The emotion sometimes means that couples cannot divide personal property when their marriage is ending. So, the Judge has to come up with a way to be fair to each spouse.

What is personal property? Generally, personal property includes but it not limited to furniture, art hanging on the wall, collections (comic books, shoes, vintage t-shirts) electronics, photographs, countertop appliances, grill, exercise equipment, backyard furniture, weapons, camping equipment, ATV, jet skis, etc. Typically, it is not an individual’s clothing.

How can the Judge divide the personal property fairly if spouses cannot agree? The Court has devised what is referred to as an A/B List. The first step is for one spouse to create a full list of all personal property and then divide the personal property into two (2) lists with one being labeled “A” and one being labeled “B.” The Court usually explains that the purpose of the A/B List is to divide the personal property so that each list has a similar value.

What happens after the A/B List is created? The spouse that did not create the list gets to assign a list to each spouse.

The theory behind the A/B List is that if each spouse is assigned a specific task, knowing that the other spouse will make a choice, they will work toward making things equal. If a spouse puts all the stuff that is wanted on “A” and the other items on “B” it might be clear to the spouse who assigns the lists. This may lead to the spouse who did not create the A/B List to select the list that is clearly something that the spouse who created the A/B List wants. However, more often than not, what the Court will see is the spouses being fair in the creating of the A/B List.