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Placing a value on unusual assets during a divorce

Getting divorced is often a messy process. First, there's filing for divorce and serving your spouse with necessary paperwork. Then, you have to make temporary child support, custody and visitation arrangements. You also need to determine how to divide your assets, which can be a complicated process. In fact, the more assets you've accumulated during your marriage, the harder dividing them up may prove to be.

There are a lot of factors that can impact the division of assets. Certain factors, like whether you executed a legally sound prenuptial agreement or if your spouse has wasted a lot of marital assets on an affair or addiction, could have an impact on the process. Creating an accurate inventory, also called a Schedule of Assets and Debts, of your marital assets and their overall value, however, will definitely have a direct impact on how even the division of assets will be in your divorce.

Unusual assets are a common hiding place for value

If your spouse has a thing for abstract art, classic cars or mid-century sports memorabilia, you may dismiss the value of the collection as negligible in the divorce. However, collections can often contain many thousands of dollars worth of marital assets. Even if your spouse bought the items in question with his or her own income, that money was still part of your marital income and overall household assets.

While you may not want the items themselves, knowing and reporting their value to the ccourts is in your best interests. Your soon-to-be ex can retain these items, but the ccourts may deduct their value from his or her claim to other assets from your marriage, such as your retirement fund or accumulated equity in your home. Don't let your disinterest in the items lead to an unfair division of your marital assets! Your spouse may be counting on you to overlook these valuable assets in the divorce.

Pricing these assets can be complicated

Once you've identified a collection or unusual asset that is likely valuable, you need to put a reasonable price on it. Ideally, the price reflects market value, which means the ccourts will uphold it when considering your assets for division. There are two ways to go about discerning the right price for unusual items.

The first is to work with a forensic accountant. This specialized professional can assist by finding out exactly how much your spouse paid for the item in question. If you have reason to believe that the value has increased since purchase, however, working with an industry specialist is your best option. There are professionals who evaluate and price everything from unimproved land to collectors' cards. Once you know the likely current value of the item, you can make sure your inventory for the ccourts reflects the value that the item would fetch if sold.

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