Divorce in Terms of Money

Posted on January 1, 2021 by Bill Hoefer, GIA GG, FGA

To the ears of many gemologist-appraisers, the assignment “divorce appraisal” has a hard, unpleasant ring to it. As Rita Mae Brown once said, “Divorce is the one human tragedy that reduces everything to cash.” The hostility associated with the task has never been a recommended way to promote popularity amongst valuers. For that reason, many professional appraisers prefer to avoid divorce appraisals. They claim they are too busy, or specialize in insurance, or they will simply charge expensive fees. Statisticians will alert you that the odds of couples seeking a divorce is commonplace. Thus, from a gemologist-appraiser’s perspective, this should be an obvious opportunity for making money. Maybe some nuts and bolts will erase the uneasiness. Let us start off with a little history. THE BRITISH ARE COMING Dissolution of marriage (divorce) laws in the United States have two origins. The thirteen colonies immediately after separating from the British, adopted their legal system. Thus, the English Common Law was the basic legal system. Of course, as time went on, the U.S. developed their own version of English Common Law. As far as marital property, the original laws were not favorable to wives. In essence, if a woman married, she lost control to her property.1 The husband could sell his wife’s real and personal property, without her permission. One slight protection for the wife was that if she held formal...

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