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The Sort Made Simple: Moving After Divorce


Written By Jacqui Knapp, Founder & C.E.O. KNAPP HOUSE Home Management

Wherever you are in your divorce – whether you’re relieved or devastated – the steps to move after divorce, and start on your next chapter can feel very overwhelming.  Just know you don’t have to go through this alone. With the right road map and proper support, you can  accomplish what you've set out to do and feel prepared for your life after divorce.

Once you’ve made the decision to get divorced, started your paperwork on it's over easy, and comprised a list of your divided assets, it’s time to decide what am I going to do with my stuff?

I understand how overwhelming this process can be and how difficult it is to navigate finding a new place and moving after a divorce, which is such a vulnerable time for most people.  When I was going through my divorce in 1997, I didn’t do it right. I didn’t understand how important it was to be organized, I tried to do everything on my own, and things fell through the cracks.

Years later my mother was going through treatment for breast cancer. I had 30 days to move her into a smaller home. I had to be objective in helping her make decisions and downsize in a smart way, under a strict deadline, during an emotional time. This is how I became a professional organizer, starting my own business helping people move and organize their lives. I have valuable information to share with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Classify & List Your Possessions

To get this process started, it will be so much easier if you either find a friend who can be objective and help you make smart decisions, or hire a professional to help you make your plans to move after your divorce (or before depending on your situation). Whether you have the support of a friend or are bringing on a professional, it’s important to get clarity on what you really need, what you really want, and what does not serve a purpose anymore. These are the typically the categories I use when I work with people in divorce related moves and changes of residences to create their List of Assets: 

  • furniture
  • accessories (books, framed photos, display items, all decorative pieces)
  • art (anything hanging on the walls)
  • family keepsakes
  • family heirlooms
  • jewelry
  • kitchen ware (appliances, all table ware & fine china)
  • electronics
  • clothing / personal items
  • plants (interior / exterior)
  • window treatments
  • area rugs
  • exercise equipment
  • pet toys & beds
  • paperwork / files
  • wedding gifts
  • recent purchases

Where to Begin?

I recommend starting with the category that causes you the most anxiety. Because once you’ve conquered that, it’s smooth sailing from there. You’ll get into a groove, find a sense of purpose, and feel accomplished & empowered.

Your decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of depend on whether you are going to stay in the same home, the same city, or if you’re moving to a new destination, and the type of space you’ll reside in next after your divorce is finalized.  

With each item, ask yourself a series of questions:

  • Do I really need it?
  • Do I really love it?
  • Does it make me feel good?
  • What does it mean to me?
  • Will it fit in the new space?

No matter what the answer is for each item, there is an easy solution. But a decision must be made. If you are unsure, set it aside and you’ll do a “re-visit” later.

Coloring & Cataloguing 

Set up a color-coding system for marking all items. I promise this will make your life so much easier. You can use colored paper tape, colored stickers, or even colored post-its. (all three of these suggestions won’t permanently stick to your stuff.)  Scotch colored masking tape is readily available at, while Office Depot and Staples have a large selection of colored stickers. I typically use red for items I want to keep, green for items I’m selling, orange for donation, blue for trash, and yellow for stuff you want to leave with your ex (community property). Have a dedicated notebook to make a list of all items.

It’s important to have a digital backup of your assets on a computer or tablet. I love using the Airtable app, which is free. You can customize your tables and swap between the mobile app and a computer. If that’s not an option for you, a good ol’ Word doc or Excel will do.

Allocate Your Assets

Once you’ve assessed your assets and made decisions on what you are keeping and what you are not, the next step is allocation: keep, donate, sell, dispose. There are numerous online consignment companies who specialize in estate sales or individual sales such as TheRealReal, Poshmark, Thread up and Ebay. For large donations, is a great resource.

You may have items you want to give to family and friends – which is great – but there needs to be a deadline set to give it away.  

Streamlining your stuff before you move will make the transition a million times easier. But I understand there isn’t always time to do this. If that is the case, temporary storage is an option. Again, a deadline needs to be set for a re-visit (re-evaluation) and put on your calendar.

The Take-away Info

To re-cap, the first step when you're planning your move after your divorce or break up is to split your assets. Then evaluate what is yours. Having a list of your assets is just the beginning. Getting into your stuff can stir up emotions. That’s why having support (a friend who can help you make objective decisions or a professional from the index) can help make this process easier and faster.

Go through each category in your List of Assets and start with the one that brings you the most anxiety. Get it over with. For each asset, consider IF it still serves a purpose for you and HOW it will fit in your new space.

Keep, Donate, Sell

Next, determine if you will keep it, donate it, or possibly sell it. For any giveaways to family or friends, set a deadline for when it needs to be gone. If you must put any items in temporary storage, set a deadline for when you will return to make decisions.

You’ve made a great choice to come to it’s over easy. The tools and resources here are designed to get you through life after a divorce as smoothly & painlessly as possible so you never feel lost or alone. And at this stage, by getting streamlined, organized, and staying on a schedule, you can start enjoying your life moving forward.

Coming up next from Jacqui Knapp, Founder & C.E.O. KNAPP HOUSE Home Management – Digital archiving “THE WAY OF NOW”

Ms. Knapp specializes in turning the chaos of a move into an ordered process.  She oversees residential moves from apartments to mansions, and she works across the United States with bases in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Aspen.  You can find Ms. Knapp on Instagram, by voice @ 424.259.3277 or via the website 

Go to this page about online divorce to learn more.

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