Valuing Artwork In Your Florida Divorce

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Property division in a high asset Florida divorce is a contentious issue in and of itself, but when assets include high-end artwork, antiques, and other valuables, it can become even more so. Aside from the value implication of dividing marital assets, the opposing parties must contend with their emotional attachments to certain pieces, which may skew their ideas of what an object is actually worth. For this reason, it is imperative that both parties seek an appraisal from a third-party expert who can provide a fair and accurate valuation of certain treasured items.

If you and your spouse are currently going through a high-asset divorce in Florida, or if you are about to embark on a high-asset divorce, contact the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg, P.A., for assistance throughout this difficult time in your life. We can help ensure that property is divvied up fairly and in accordance with Florida equitable distribution laws.

The Role of an Attorney in High-Asset Divorce Cases 

Ideally, all divorcing parties should retain the help of an experienced lawyer, but the truth is that many people do not have the resources or the foresight to do so. However, if you are involved in a high-asset divorce case, proceeding without an attorney should not even be an option. This is especially true if you and your spouse accumulated fine artwork and collectibles over the years.

According to a report published by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers titled “What is the Bottom Line? Valuing Art, Antiques and Other Personal Property in a Divorce,” a high-asset divorce attorney plays a critical role in the property division process. From the beginning, an attorney is responsible for obtaining an accurate and detailed appraisal on behalf of the client. No aspect of the appraisal is too minor, and everything from what property is valued to who does the valuation matters. Of course, an attorney’s role goes beyond the procedural.

Once in court, the lawyer must use every means necessary to convince the court that his or her client’s contribution to the marriage was substantial so as to warrant an award of 50 percent or more of the marital assets. Moreover, the attorney must convince the courts that the value of assets sought by the opponent is substantial, while that sought by his or her client is minimal. This is a tricky task, as if the attorney up-plays or downplays the value of assets too much, the judge may suspect that the appraisal and valuation was not conducted with objective standards, which could end up harming the client’s case.

To ensure that attorneys and their clients do act judicially, courts require the opinion of independent and reliable experts. When each party acts fairly, appraisals can be used as an effective tool to persuade the court of arts’ value and result in a favorable outcome for each party.

That said, if you want to obtain a favorable outcome, you cannot just expect to “play fair” and have everything turn out in your favor. The right Boca Raton high-asset divorce lawyer understands that certain steps should be taken to justify the valuations provided by the hired appraiser. Some such steps include the following:

  • Collect and catalog the client’s personal property;
  • Find and retain the help of a qualified appraiser; and
  • Understand and bear in mind the court’s discretion throughout the entire valuation process.

Understanding the Import of the Court’s Discretion

Perhaps the most important step an attorney can take is to work with the court’s discretion in mind. According to the AAML report, the court’s decision regarding property rights is contingent upon the information provided by both parties. Though the court has the power and the duty to adjust property rights of litigants in an equitable manner, it cannot do so if it does not have the requisite information. When presented with an appropriate and properly-backed appraisal, the courts must use the information to ascertain property values. If not given such appraisals, the courts may use their discretion to make final determinations. Litigants must bear in mind that once a valuation is made and a judgment is entered, the valuation cannot be modified.

Contact a Knowledgeable Boca Raton High Asset Divorce Lawyer 

High-asset divorce cases are highly contentious because they often involve artwork and other collectibles that are difficult to value. For this reason, if you and your spouse are about to embark on a high-asset divorce, you should retain the help of a Boca Raton divorce lawyer who has the knowledge and resources necessary to ensure that you obtain the best possible outcome in the property division process. Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hirschberg, P.A., to schedule a consultation with one such attorney today.

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