When a person thinks about the property division of divorce, more often than not they think about the value of what is being divided. But what is that value? Is it simply the dollar amount that could be placed on the item if sold on the market? For a family business, does keeping it in the family make it more valuable? Do you consider your pet an invaluable member of the family even though the court sees it as a piece of property?
Value means often means something very different for each spouse during a divorce. Take the example of one high-asset couple with a multi-million dollar art collection featuring 47 pieces. Within the collection were 43 paintings featuring names like Monet and Renoir. The couple was not against splitting the collection so that each spouse got a portion worth an equal dollar amount, but why did their attempt fail…twice?
The judge presiding over the case asked each spouse to write down on paper how they thought the collection should be divided and why. What he found was that each spouse viewed the division of the property in a completely different manner.
For the wife, she thought that the collection should be split depending on the emotional attachment each person had to a work of art. For her, it was not the monetary value but the emotional and sentimental feelings that the piece invoked in her.
For the husband, he viewed it as a realistic solution to a simple problem. He wanted to secure a line of credit with JPMorgan Chase. In order to do so, he needed several pieces valued at $750,000 or more. After that, he had a lot of wall space to fill. So he was not concerned about money after the line of credit was concerned; it was about having enough pieces of the right size to fill his homes. And in his definition, a collection requires some diversity in terms of artist, period and style.
To find a solution, the judge had to give each piece a price-per-square-inch value to satisfy the wall-space requirement. He found a way to split the collection giving the husband the works of art necessary to fulfill the line-of-credit requirement and allow the wife to walk away with a few of her favorite paintings.
Source: The Seattle Times, “The art of divorce: She gets the Monet, he gets the Renoir,” Ken Armstrong, July 31, 2012