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May 28, 2015
Evaluating Valuation & Setting a Sentimental Ceiling

By Robert Tedeschi

Unfortunately, marriage and relationship breakdown is a common phenomenon in present day society, and brings with it anguish and difficulties that have the potential to cloud the judgment of those caught in its clutches. This has the capacity to complicate the settling of property issues between the parties.

Whether it be a desire to inflict some sort of suffering on the other party, or merely that a particular item of property be retained, it is important to bear in mind that emotion has the capacity to complicate the resolution of property proceedings and draw out costs.

Is Hiring a Valuer Worth It?

For most relationships, the main asset of the parties is almost always the matrimonial home. As this asset is the most valuable in the context of the relationship, it makes sense that significant time and effort be expended ensuring the best possible split of that asset.

However, there is a tendency among some to become preoccupied with the valuation of other personal property, often the many household goods and furniture that once furnished the former matrimonial home.

While it is reasonable to expend a little energy and money ensuring an equal split of those ‘chattels’ it is important to remember that secondhand personal property, is worth only a fraction of the value. It is troubling when litigants spend a large amount of time and money arguing over the valuation of assets that comprise only a fraction of the overall property pool to be split between parties.

While valuers offer a convenient service and help to settle disputes on property, their services should only be retained where there is an asset of significant value which cannot be agreed between the parties, or where personal property exists that is extremely rare or niche.

Retaining the services of a valuer to quantify the worth of electronic goods, old recreational equipment and myriad other items of personal property is often an exercise in waste.

Property should only be valued when it is certain that the money expended on valuation will not surpass the overall value of the items being valued. While there may be a voice in your head suggesting you are getting a raw deal when it comes to the split of personal property, it is important to keep in mind that the end game is to ensure as much of your property remains with you at the completion of property proceedings, not in the pockets of lawyers and other service providers.

Taking the Emotional Aspect Out

Following on from the valuation issue, it is also important, prior to initiating property proceedings; to do a cost benefit analysis in regards to personal property you wish to retain that has a high sentimental value.

There can be any number of examples of personal property that is not of itself very valuable but for sentimental reasons, is valued very highly. It is easy to forget about the costs of arguing over that piece of property and incur large legal bills trying to ensure it stays with you.

However, it is advisable prior to instructing your lawyer to set a ‘sentimental ceiling’ on what it is you are willing to expend to secure that item. Just how high that sentimental ceiling is will always be a question for the person involved, but you must ask yourself, if this piece of property is worth only $100 am I ready to spend $3,000-5,000 arguing over it?

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to have a constructive and rational dialogue when emotions are running high. The only control we really have is over how we decide to behave and act.

By taking a step back and attempting to remove the emotion from the decision making process, it is possible to save money when attempting to settle property issues. Keep in mind which assets are the most valuable and worth fighting over.

For any family law issues please contact Robert Tedeschi of LBH on rtedeschi@Lbandh.com.au