Financial Guide: Closing Thoughts

1. Introduction

2. Psychological Warfare

3. Property in General

4. Maintenance / Alimony

5. Modification

6. Specific Assets

7. The Marital Home

8. The Family Business

9. Tying it All Together

10. Post Tax Outcome

11. Maintenance for Property

12. Closing Thoughts

13. About the Author

Closing Thoughts on Marital Property

Never wage a war over particular items of tangible personal property unless the contested items have a great value as, for example, certain antiques or works of art.

Generally speaking, the value of any particular item of personalty is exceeded by the attorney fees necessary to obtain or retain it. As used here, the term personal property refers to the standard items one finds in and around most homes, excluding however, automobiles of more than $5,000 value.

This is not to suggest, however, that you should shrug off this category of assets. Quite the contrary. Collectively such personal property may afford you an opportunity to enlarge your cut of the marital pie in two respects:

Wives often place greater value on such things than do husbands. Men tend to think less passionately and sentimentally about such items (or they are at least more amenable to such detachment than are their spouses). As suggested earlier, emotions are an inflammatory factor in negotiations – they elevate the value of particular items to a particular party, which in turn typically means greater concessions to the opposing party. Presumably you have already concluded that in no event should you jeopardize an otherwise favorable deal over such items.

I realize however that there are occasionally compelling circumstances regarding certain things such as heirlooms and pictures which, while de minimus to the accountant, are of great value to you. I can only caution you in such cases to weigh the potential price accompanying these items, whether procured by settlement or conflict.

Obviously I am referring in this paragraph only to circumstances where obtaining the items sought would in fact require something substantial on your part. If handled appropriately, you might get such things gratuitously.

As discussed previously, it is not uncommon for the personal property of a marriage to have a total fair market value between $50,000 and $100,000. For some of you, the total will be twice that. You will likely be surprised when you prepared the detailed personal property list requested by your lawyer where you must methodically value each piece of china, each item of furniture, all your electronic equipment, and your exterior maintenance tools and equipment.

The bottom line here is that your interest in the marital personal property is not something to be casually dismissed or thoughtlessly waived as many husbands are notoriously prone to do. Instead, you and your attorney must assure such assets are appropriately highlighted in negotiations and/or trial. In either case, you should receive a compensating credit in your column via other marital asset(s).

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