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How do you value your possessions during a Watertown divorce? II

Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Aug 04, 2012 in Property Division

In our prior post, we covered an issue that stretches into a divorce when property is being divided. Some assets are simply worth more to a couple than just their market value. A pet may be considered a family member. A spouse may want his or her family's business to remain in the family. As seen with the example of a multi-million-dollar art collection including names like Monet and Renoir, there are often many more factors to consider than just the market value.

We left you hanging as to how the judge in that specific instance decided to divide the property. So how did the judge determine that the wife would get 19 specific works of art and the husband would walk away with 24 all the while leaving both spouses satisfied?

First, the judge asked each spouse to write down on paper how they thought that the collection should be divided, but most importantly to include the why behind their reasoning.

The wife responded in a seven-page letter about how each piece invoked serious emotional responses in her or carried with them incredible sentimental value. She said that some pieces were "incredibly soothing," others reminded her of very fond memories and others she simply hated -- like the English Cropsey painting that was housed in the London home she was set to receive.

The husband's document sounded much more like the pragmatic reasoning behind a business deal. He simply said that he had a lot of wall space that would require a large number of paintings. However, he noted that they could not include all of the least expensive ones. He wanted to secure a line of credit with JPMorgan Chase that would require individual pieces worth at least $750,000.

To resolve the issue, the judge first gave every work of art a price-per-square-inch value in order to judge the collection necessary to satisfy the husband's wall space needs. He then gave the wife two of the pieces that she felt closest to. Next, he ensured that the husband had enough square-inch value and enough pieces to satisfy the JPMorgan Chase requirement, dividing the similar square-inch value works with the wife's emotions in mind. Both couples were satisfied even though the wife got the painting that she disliked the most. At least the sale of one piece would not flood the market should she choose to take it out of her collection.

Source: The Seattle Times, "The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir," July 28, 2012

If you own assets that have more than only a market value -- like a multi-million dollar art collection -- our Connecticut property division page can provide more information.

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