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What to do with the family albums after a divorce?

After a marriage breaks down lots of things are divisible, you can sell a house and spilt the proceeds, family heirlooms stay with the rightful heir and the joint bank gets divvied out. Other parts of married life are trickier to split – the kids, the dog, or your mutual friends for example - but you can usually eventually work out a solution.

When it comes to the family memories you’ve built together over the decades - the photos and the albums in which they're preserved. Like the kids and the dog, it’s emotional. So what do you do? Do you try and remember your guillotine skills from school and cut out your ex? Are they bound for the bin? Or do you both want a copy?

The likelihood is you probably won’t even have a conversation about them. They’ll end up in someone's box, stored in a loft or at the back of a garage only to see the light of day many, many years later.

You may not want them under the coffee table or sticking out of the bookcase but memories are there to be shared, so what are the solutions?

Kids - if you have them – are a good place to start. Palming everything off to mutual territory is good way of dealing with it. But it’s not without its problems. Who keeps hold of them if you have more than one child? Do they have the space or even want to store box load of photo albums? And it could well be emotional for them too, let’s not forget.

There is a better way.

Scanning your photos and digitising those old memories is the best way of preserving and storing everything while making sure anyone who wants a copy can have one. Giving you a little less to worry about and a little more headspace to figure out what happens to the dog. Vintage Photo Lab has been solving this problem for people since 2012. Whether it's a box of loose photos, a stack of old slides or an entire bookshelf of albums of family history, we collect, we scan and we return. To digitally preserve every single family memory you own; for you, your family, and for generations to come.

Practical versions of outcomes to consider:

1.  Let your ex have the lot and don't look back in anger.

A bold choice, and one that will leave you feeling completely Zen...or a little bit hard done by. Sometimes it's just best to say goodbye, right?

2. Split the original copies. Like picking straws, take it in turns to choose your favourites until they're all allocated.

Seems fair, if not a little drastic. Some favourite old memories will now be lost forever.

3. One person keeps the originals, the other gets a digital version.

This is common. Whomever wins out financially is often tasked with paying for the originals to be digitised so that the other person can have a full set of digital copies of the images, to enjoy forever. Loose photos, photo albums, slides, negatives, Cine film and camcorder tapes.

4. One person keeps the originals, the other gets a digital version plus reprinted copies of everything.

Similar to No. 3 but in addition, "money-bags" also has to stump up for printed copies of photos along with photo albums reprinted as photo books from the original scans.

5. Both parties get a digital copy and the originals are passed on to the next generation.

This seems like a pretty good option. Remove the physical element by passing it down a generation. They (hopefully) still love both their parents and will have less ill-feeling at some of the bad memories that might be circling in that box. Then they get digital access to everything they want (deletable as appropriate), and the kids have the problem of the big dusty old box. Order is restored to the Galaxy.

Contact the Vintage Photo Lab team, who have been solving these problems for over a decade, to discuss any of the solutions above.


For more general help and advice of if you need support around the topic of divorce, visit Relate.