What a Billionaire’s Divorce Can Teach You

You may not be a billionaire, but the laws apply equally to billionaires as it does for everyone else. Harry Macklowe and Linda Macklowe are billionaires, they are the owners or an impressive art collection that according to Mr. Macklowe’s expert, is worth $788 million dollars, but, according to Ms. Macklowe’s expert is worth $625 million dollars. This illustrates that when it comes to personal property (which is what an art collection is considered), that valuation can be difficult and can vary widely. The same principle applies to any personal property that you and your spouse may own and that you may be arguing over. You may say that your car is worth $20,000, while your spouse says it is worth $10,000. So, what will happen? Well, similar to the Macklowe’s divorce, there are a few choices that the Court can choose from.

The court could decide to:

  1. Sell the asset (here, the car, in the Macklowe divorce, some of the art collection).
  2. Retain a receiver to determine what to do with the asset. A receiver is a third party that is appointed by the Court. A receiver will get a fee for performing its services, and in some cases, their fee is based on the amount of money they can obtain from selling the asset. Typically, receivers are used to manage and sell real estate property, but, as with the Macklowe divorce, a receiver can also be used to sell personal property. In the Macklowe divorce, the receiver decided to sell some of the art and give some of it to each party.
  3. Give the asset to one party, and compensate the other party with cash. In my car example, the Court could decide to let you keep the car, but, then you would have to give 50% of your valuation to your spouse, so, you would have to give $10,000 to your spouse. This is why, you don’t want to overvalue your asset, if you do, you may end up giving more money to your spouse then what the property is really worth. However, you also don’t want to undervalue your asset, because the Court could also give the car to your spouse (who said it was worth only $10,000), in that case, your spouse would only have to give you $5,000 and that may be a lot less than what the car is really worth.
  4. Allow the parties some time to reach a settlement on how to distribute personal property. Typically, this is the best method for dividing up personal property. It allows you and your spouse control over the process, and typically, will result in none of the property being sold and with each party getting a fair share of the property.

So, although you may not own an art collection worth millions of dollars, it is likely that you do own personal property, which includes, as some examples: cars, furniture, tools, equipment, jewelry, and sports collections. In many instances, determining the value of the personal property can be difficult. Just as in the Macklowe divorce, the Court has a few choices on how to distribute that personal property. In most cases, the best course of action is to reach an agreement with your spouse on how to distribute the personal property.

David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office can help you with your divorce, including issues of dealing with personal property. David Badanes has helped numerous clients in their divorce cases. The Badanes Law Office handles all types of divorce cases, from the extremely complicated to simple uncontested divorces, and everything in-between.

If you are thinking of getting a divorce, or are thinking of hiring a new attorney for your divorce, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office. Contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit our website: www.dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Suffolk County (Northport) and in Nassau County.

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