In a divorce, an attorney by his or her client is supposed to present the value of all household items and other personal property items for the court to divide. The practical question this raises for the parties is how to do this. This blog provides three practice ways to value and put evidence on about the value of such items so the court has a view of the total marital estate.
Big assets (homes, retirement accounts, et cetera) are easy to identify and value. Sometimes small things are not, although no party wants to re-purchase all items, like clothing, pots and pans, tools, and the like.
For the most part, divorce courts give parties a lot of leeway to testify about household items and vehicles. Key ways these are valued are by auctioneers, testimony about a grouping of total pots and pans being equal and minimal value, such as X at a garage sale or Y for replacement cost. However, the equitable way to divide these is to have the parties share the items so neither has to buy at market value the replacement.
More precise ways of valuing property may include a car dealer appraising a car and then testifying about value. A fair amount of this may be stipulated to by agreement of the parties to avoid the costs of having to pay such a person to come to court. Finally, where there is disagreement, a precise inventory and then appraisal by an auctioneer and his or her testimony is a good way to value these unique items that everyone has in their home that add up to a large cost but should be divided, not ordered sold.
The more information a party can provide to the divorce court judge about what is fair and equitable to divide versus value and set over to one party and credit or debit the other, the better job a judge can do for the parties as a neutral. This is an area where many litigants do not spend a lot of time considering the issue until they are faced with the potential to re-purchase pots, pan and linens.
We hope you find this blog post useful to help you with general background about the difficult task lawyers and judges face in giving the court the necessary information to be fair and equitable and divide the marital estate. If so, this blog post has met its objective. This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice throughout the state of Indiana. It is written for general educational purposes, and not legal advice or a solicitation for services.