Divorce & Dissolution Appraisals
When you are going through a divorce one of the questions friends and family often ask is, “So, are you going to keep the house?”
While your home is a major concern, so is what’s in it. Oftentimes objects of high value become something of contention, when one spouse favors an object over the other, there could be unforeseen loss.
Ideally, you and your spouse will decide together how you want to divide the marital property - you'll have to decide things like who will keep the furniture, artwork and other tangible property. If you can't agree on these issues yourselves, you'll have to ask a judge to divide your property for you.
How the courts divide personal property in a divorce situation?
The court starts with a presumption that all the property earned or acquired by either spouse during the marriage is community property, owned equally by the spouses. If you have separate property you have to prove it by tracing it with "clear and convincing evidence." Separate property includes property acquired by just one spouse by gift or inheritance.
The court divides community property between the spouses in a "just and right manner." In most cases, that means a 50-50 split. In some cases, however, this simple formula does not apply.
For example, you might show that you inherited a painting from your grandmother during your marriage, and your spouse wishes to claim partial ownership. In this situation, Kurt Shaw & Co., Inc. can help you with clarifications, in addition to assessing value in the event of agreeing to sell the item.
Figuring Out How To Divide Your Property
A good way to start is to make a list of everything that you own. Then you need to figure out which items are separate property, which items are community property, and what the fair market value of each item is. You will have to do this to complete your divorce anyway, when you fill out a Schedule of Assets and Debts.
The Schedule of Assets and Debts is one of the forms you must exchange with your spouse or domestic partner in your financial declarations of disclosure. It is a requirement for divorces and legal separations.
In your Schedule of Assets and Debts each party must declare all assets and debts, including community and separate property, to the other. At this stage it is important to be open and honest in listing everything of value you own. If you keep anything hidden, or if one partner secretly sells an item, it tends to come to the surface sooner or later, and the penalties for hiding something of value can be very serious.
Once you have each filled out your Schedule of Assets and Debts, you can compare them to see if you disagree about whether something is community or separate; and if there is a big difference in how you and your partner value the property.
This will help you decide whether the case can be settled or whether you will have to go to trial.
However, going to trial over these matters is the last thing you would want to do, as it is not only costly but a matter of time – quite simply, it could hold up the finalization of the Divorce Decree.
This is where the advice of a qualified Personal Property Appraiser like Kurt Shaw & Co., Inc. can help by determining the true value of your objects, making room for sensible decisions to be made.