What Is Your Stuff worth in Divorce Court?

It depends on who is evaluating it and why.

Money has different values. $10,000.00 in cash is better than a $10,000.00 CD that is locked in for 5 years at 3% interest or $10,000.00 in a 401(k) because you have to pay tax on 401(k). A 3% CD is very low interest normally and has no flexibility.

Stock value seems simple. But $10,000.00 of stock you purchased for $10,000.00 is worth more to you than that $10,000.00 of stock for which you paid $1,000.00 because you have taxes to pay on the latter.

Real Estate. Your homestead which you sell for $100,000.00 more than you paid for it is worth more than the weekend lake house which you sell for $100,000.00 more than you paid for it because then you will be taxed when you sell the lake house but not when you sell the homestead.

Personal property such as furniture may have several different values. However, unless it is an antique or collectible it’s garage sale value. But to replace it will cost more than that, so it’s worth more to the owner. Example: A Washer-Dryer in good condition that originally cost $1,500 is only worth about $150 used but unless you are willing to go to garage sales to replace it that used item is worth more than $150 to you.

Lawyers aren’t CPA’s and generally do not have expertise in tax matters, but their experience and training can recognize and point out the many ways of valuing your stuff.

Here at North Texas Family Lawyers, we are fortunate to have Damon Wykrent available to help. Damon is one of the preeminent certified divorce planner, financial planners, and certified fraud examiners in the area. He is able to give you the correct evaluation methods to help you make financial decisions in dividing your property in a divorce. In my 46 years as both a lawyer and District Judge, I have seen more mistakes by litigants in getting the right valuations and then making the right choices based on those evaluations than almost anything else. Do your homework carefully then choose wisely.

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