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How much are your spouse's collectibles worth?

When divorces unfold, the spouses often get caught up in the emotional aspects of the split and fail to focus on the terms of the property settlement. This can be a major mistake because what you take away from the marriage is what will prepare you for the life ahead.

Some divorcing spouses don't even realize the value of some marital assets that they surrender without a fight. This is particularly true when one spouse collected assets that might be hard to valuate.

People collect almost everything under the sun. Some collections are very valuable, like art, wine or antiques. Other collections are quirky and of interest only to those who share that spouse's particular interest.

But that doesn't mean that those items have no value. Quite the contrary, in fact. Odd items like antique medical devices or old chamber pots can bring large sums on eBay and other sites.

If those items were acquired during the marriage, they will be subject to the marital property distribution laws. Of course, collectors may loathe the idea of parting with their treasures. That's why it's often strategic to use the items as leverage in a trade-off for another asset that you would rather receive.

But that is putting the cart before the horse. Your first order of business is to get the collection professionally valuated. Until you do this, any negotiations are premature. Both spouses may retain an independent evaluator, or the two may each hire their own. If they cannot reach accord on this, the court may step in and appoint someone to value the collection.

Make sure that your family law attorney is aware of the collection that your spouse has so that this can be dealt with early, as the quirkier the collection is, the more difficult it may be to find someone who can fairly evaluate its worth.

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