Assets That Need Special Attention During Equitable Distribution
Some divorcing couples have relatively straightforward assets that are reasonably simple to distribute among the parties: one house, a vehicle or two, and some bank accounts, for example. Other Pennsylvania couples own assets that are harder to value and divide. In those situations, assessing the value of the property can require more time and attention.
Pennsylvania’s law of equitable distribution does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. In fact, one spouse often walks away with more property than the other. To arrive at a fair distribution, valuing each piece of property accurately is key. One of the challenges is to arrive at a fair value for certain assets that don’t have an easily measured, objective worth. Examples of such assets include:
- Investments (including brokerage accounts, retirement accounts and cryptocurrency), which fluctuate with the market. Many retirement accounts are distributed through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) which designates an alternate payee when it comes time for the funds to be distributed.
- Investment properties that generate varying cash flow
- Family businesses
- Collector cars
- Fine art, jewelry and other luxury items
- Collections of coins, stamps or precious metals
It is possible that family law attorneys can broker agreements between spouses regarding what certain assets are worth. But often these special assets require a professional appraiser’s opinion. If your spouse hires an appraiser and you disagree with their valuation, you can hire your own appraiser to provide a different perspective.
When it comes to business interests, an expert who is familiar with the relevant industry might be brought in. This expert will analyze the business’ cash flow, tax position, debt situation, goodwill and other important characteristics to determine how much the company is worth.
Appreciated assets present their own unique problems to solve, particularly when an asset was owned by one spouse prior to marriage and then its value rose during the marriage. While the asset is still considered the original owner’s separate property and is therefore not subject to division, the value of the appreciation is a marital asset and must be divided. If one spouse had investments worth $250,000 at the beginning of the marriage and they are now worth $1 million, that $750,000 gain will need to be divided.
Dealing with hard-to-value assets requires skill and creative problem-solving. At The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C., our lawyers know how to help clients reach mutually agreeable property settlements through negotiation. We’re also prepared to make your case in court when necessary to reach a fair outcome. To talk to an attorney about your impending divorce, call our Yardley office at 215.493.3360 or contact us online anytime.