Can My Spouse Take My Collectibles in a New Jersey Divorce?
Dividing assets is one of the most difficult aspects of getting divorced in New Jersey. While some people are concerned about real estate or their savings, others may worry that some of their most prized possessions will be taken. These collectible items may have intrinsic value to you. For example, you may have a baseball card collection that you have owned since a child or a priceless coin collection.
It might seem unfair to give these items to your spouse, especially if your spouse does not view these items with the same level of care and wonder. For many individuals, one of their worst nightmares is seeing their former spouse sell their beloved collectible items for a quick buck after a divorce. So is it true that your spouse can take these items from you? What can you do to stop this from happening?
New Jersey is an Equitable Distribution State
First off, it is important to understand that New Jersey complies with equitable distribution laws when it comes to divorces. In other words, all assets are split in a roughly 50/50 manner. What this means in practice is that each spouse walks away with the same value of assets. Equitable distribution applies to every asset you own, including collectibles.
How do I Stop My Spouse From Taking My Collectibles?
Stopping your former spouse from taking your collectibles may be easier than you think. The simplest method is to offer a “trade” with your spouse in terms of specific assets. In other words, you would take complete ownership of your collectibles while your spouse takes complete ownership of another asset of equal value.
For example, you might take complete ownership of your baseball card collection, which has a value of $1,000, while your spouse takes possession of your old car, which also has a value of $1,000.
These types of trades and deals work best when you hire an experienced lawyer to help you. In most cases, your lawyer will work with your spouse’s lawyer to create a deal that satisfies everyone. This helps you avoid fighting with your spouse, and it also helps you avoid litigation and costly legal fees. Coming up with an agreement outside of court is almost always the best option.
Getting Your Collectibles Appraised
If you want to keep hold of your collectibles, you may have to get them appraised. This process ensures that both parties are fully aware of the genuine worth of any item. This is a bit of a double-edged sword.
On the one hand, you might find out that your collectibles are worth significantly less than you expected. In this case, your spouse probably will not care too much if you take possession, allowing you to walk away with items that have special value (even if they are not valuable in a financial sense).
On the other hand, you may discover that your items are much more valuable than you expected. In this situation, your spouse may demand that the assets be liquidated (sold) so that they can gain half of the cash value.
The Importance of Legal Help
A qualified legal expert can help you approach this situation in a calculated, strategic manner. If one particular asset is important to you, it is best to hire a legal expert who can help you keep hold of it. Reach out to Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law, and we can help you walk away from your divorce without losing your most precious items.