Cash in the attic

When a couple separates, their possessions need to be divided fairly. This can often be a fraught process as we often attach high emotional significance to even the simplest objects. In divorce, retaining a certain painting can represent victory, and relinquishing it can appear to mean defeat. In the USA couples have access to an “app” to settle such issues.

For Clive Joy it was a particularly hard pill to swallow when amidst the background of an acrimonious divorce his wife asked for his precious £470,000 vintage Bentley to be used as security to fund the legal costs of her divorce. He argued that his fortune once £69 million had been depleted to only £65,000.

The 1928 Bentley Tourer remained at the couple’s palatial former matrimonial home in Provence. The High Court ordered the Bentley’s return to England as security for Mrs Joy’s escalating legal fees. Mr Joy appealed the decision saying he had already promised the car to his lawyers as collateral for their fees and that the car was also subject to a French court order preventing its removal from France. The Court decided that no serious prejudice would be caused to the husband if the car was removed to England. The French court has yet to decide.

How are possessions dealt with on divorce?

If personal possessions such as an antique watch, jewellery, the collection of tie pins – just some examples – were bought during the marriage they are considered marital property. If the couple each have their own collection of antiques or cars of broadly similar value, they can be offset as part of the overall settlement.

If one spouse owns an additional collection of cars and antiques with significant value, the courts are more likely to have regard to the value of those assets, and treat them as a means of raising cash. The starting point is that its value must be taken into account and divided in a way which is fair between the couple.

Dealing with personal possessions on divorce is seldom a straightforward exercise. Consulting an experienced family solicitor is important to ensure the right information and guidance is available to you, and that all of the options available are explored.

If you would like to speak to Sally-Ann Kodurand a specialist in financial claims call us on 01935 813691.

Mogers Drewett

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