Be aware of sentimental value in family law disputes

As many Springfield residents probably know already, a divorce or legal separation, and sometimes even an informal breakup, are going to each cause issues related to property division. With respect to divorce in particular, the goal in Massachusetts is to divide the property of the married couple equitably, that is fairly, between them.

Handling property division therefore requires that the court and both parties have some understanding of how much each piece of property is worth. Otherwise, it will be hard to know whether, from a financial perspective, one party is getting the short end of the stick.

Putting a value on property can be a complicated process that depends heavily on what type of property when is trying to evaluate. Many people feel most comfortable just getting an expert appraiser or accountant to value property, but that is not always necessary. It is almost always a good idea to speak with one’s family law attorney about valuation.

One general point to keep in mind is that those going through the process, perhaps unwittingly, will attach sentimental value to certain pieces of property that are being divided. What this means is that, perhaps because it has memories attached to it or because someone worked hard to obtain or keep it, the property is worth a lot more to that person than it would be on the open market.

It is the sort of phenomenon that affects even happily married couples who are, for example, trying to sell their beloved family home or a business they have owned and operated for years.

Sentimental value is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as people are aware of it when it exists since sentimental value does not translate in to how much something is worth in terms of dollars and cents. Those who don’t’ acknowledge that they might be putting too much value on item may be prone to giving up too much to keep it.

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