Valuing Tools in Equitable Distribution in Divorce

A recent Florida district court of appeal’s (DCA) case (1D13-792) reversed a decision by a judge to value a couple’s tools at $20,000 during a divorce (dissolution of marriage) case. Although this case is about tools, other divorcing couples may face similar circumstances with other assets such as jewelry, collections, guns, cars or many other valuable assets.

In the divorce case, the judge used the $20,000 value when dividing and allocating the marital assets between the couple (called equitable distribution).

The district court of appeals found that because there was no competent and substantial evidence of the value presented, the judge could not make the determination that the tools were worth $20,000. During the case, the husband claimed the tools had a value of $100 and the wife put a value of $20,000 on them, but appears that neither had provided any basis for the valuation or provided any evidence to substantiate their positions.

The bottom line is that it is important that if you have a substantial marital asset which you both do not agree on a value of, that you obtain competent evidence of the value and present it to the court. Depending upon the asset this could be an appraisal or some other reliable authority.