Valuing household contents

Generally, it will be up to you and your ex-partner to decide how you will divide your household contents after a relationship breakdown. The Family Court does not normally decide who gets to keep household contents.

It is common for people to keep the household contents they have in their possession at the time of the property settlement and for an estimate of the value of the items to be taken into account in the settlement.

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Find out:

  • what household contents are
  • what property the Family Court makes decisions about
  • how household contents are valued, and
  • what to do if you and your ex-partner cannot agree on the value of household contents.

What are household contents?

Household contents are things such as furniture, fridges and washing machines and personal items such as clothes, jewellery and tools.

What property does the Family Court make decisions about?

In a property case, the court will generally focus on how significant items such as real estate, motor vehicles and superannuation are divided between people.

There are a few exceptions to this general approach. These include items such as expensive works of art, jewellery, antiques or memorabilia. If you cannot agree about who keeps these items, the court will decide how they are divided.

How are household contents valued?

Household contents are generally given a market value. This means they are valued at a price that someone would reasonably pay for second-hand goods in the marketplace. For example, how much money someone would pay for the item if it was sold at a garage sale or on Gumtree.

Household contents are not given the value they were when they were bought new or how much it would be to pay to replace them. They are also not given their insured value.

Generally, the Family Court will be satisfied with a rough estimated dollar amount being given to each person. For example, the property settlement might say one partner will keep $5,000 and the other partner will keep $5,000 worth of household contents.

What if my ex-partner and I cannot agree on the market value of household contents?

If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on the value of a particular item (such as art, jewellery, antiques or memorabilia) you can agree to hire an expert to value it and provide a sworn valuation.

The expert is a person that is highly qualified in a particular area. Experts are usually registered or accredited with a national or state board. There are specific family law rules that experts need to follow. The expert will give their opinion in writing and will ‘swear’ that the valuation is independent and authentic. This is called a sworn valuation.

Who is responsible for paying for a sworn valuation?

It is common for the cost of a sworn valuation to be shared between the couple.

It is a good idea to make enquiries with a few experts to find out their costs as the fee for a sworn valuation will change from expert to expert.


Reviewed: 1 December 2020


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.