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Modern Divorce and the Designer Handbag Dilemma

by Richard Zakroff on January 12, 2017

Divorce is messy, even when there aren’t a significant number of assets to divide. For folks in the upper middle class and higher, however, dividing assets can be the most contentious part of a divorce. In some cases, it can even be more contentious that custody of the children.

Determining how to create a loving environment for Johnny and Suzy can be a lot easier than determining the fate of that Valentino Va Va Voom Constellation Embroidered Black Fabric Shoulder Bag.

Divorce is expensive

The average marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years. That’s quite a bit of time to acquire assets for both you and your spouse.

The divorce of Mel and Robyn Gibson in 2009 is, to date, the largest award of a celebrity divorce settlement, with Mel paying out approximately $425 million. While your soon-to-be-ex may not be on the hook for that much, chances are you’re going to be entitled to some of what he has.

And, of course, he’s going to be entitled to some of what you have. Believe it or not, that might include your designer handbag collection.

Valuing your assets

With a shared residence, it’s fairly easy to establish value. A market appraisal done by a certified professional will tell you how much the home is worth. The same holds true for many shared possessions like cars or high-end electronics.

For some assets, however, a specialist should be called in. If your husband has a coin collection, you’ll need to have an appraiser determine the value of the collection so it can be considered in the divorce proceedings. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that specifically exempts those coins, their value is fair game.

The same goes for your designer handbag collection.             It doesn’t remain exclusively the property of the wife. The value of the collection has to be established.

How to establish the value of a designer handbag collection

One option, of course, is to hire an expert and seek their testimony for the court. This, unfortunately, can be expensive, and will be that much less that can be split in the divorce.

Another option, one that will save both spouses money, is to use a site like CashInMyBag.com.

The process is fairly straightforward. It works like this:

  1. Take photographs of your Chanel, Louis or other high-end handbags.
  2. Be sure to include close-up photos of any wear or imperfections so that the estimator can determine a fair value for the bag.
  3. Include a description of the bag, including style, color, how often it’s been used, the year it was made, whether it’s had previous owners and any other relevant information you can think of.
  4. CashInMyBag.com will provide you with a quote offering to buy the items.
  5. Print the quote attached to the photos.
  6. Create a summary page listing each of the items and the value offered by CashInMyBag.com.
  7. If your soon-to-be-ex agrees, this can be offered to the judge as proof of the value of the items.

This process is easier, faster and less expensive than hiring an expert, and will give you a good idea of the current liquid value of the handbag collection. Keep in mind that this kind of quote from a reseller is the wholesale value; it’s the price you could sell the bag for today. To determine retail values, you’d have to visit the retail websites and make notes from there. Unfortunately, these won’t take into account the actual condition of the item.

Establishing ownership

There are other factors to be considered here, as well. In many states, Community Property Laws indicate that property acquired by a spouse during a marriage by gift is separate property and actually belongs to the spouse.

So, if you have a Louis handbag that values at $4,400 on CashInMyBag.com that was given to you by your mother-in-law for Christmas, it may be considered your property and not be subject to ruling in the divorce.

Keep in mind, however, that the burden of proof is with you. In this example, you’d need your soon-to-be-ex mother-in-law be willing to state that the bag was given to you as a gift.

The same goes for that Gucci 326706 Soho Multi-Color Python Large Chain Hobo that’s worth over two grand. If your husband bought it for you while you were out for Valentine’s Day, you’d better hope it came with a card that said “Here is a Gucci 326706 Soho Multi-Color Python Large Chain Hobo to express my undying love for you.” Otherwise, you’ll be at his mercy as to whether he claims it was a gift.

Your plan of action

Ultimately, working with your attorney, you need a plan of action when it comes to your designer handbag collection. Following the steps below will get you started:

  1. Make a list of all of your designer handbags that have resale value.
  2. Determine how each was acquired, whether they were purchased by you or by someone else.
  3. If they were purchased as a gift for you, make a note of it, and contact the giver to see if they will offer support for your claim that it was a gift.
  4. Following the steps outlined earlier in this article, get CashInMyBag.com to value your designer handbag collection.
  5. Create a master list of handbags with their values, noting whether they were gifts and whether the giver will agree to support your claim that it was a gift.

In some cases, your future ex-spouse may not have any interest in your handbag collection. While you’re legally required to declare your assets and their value, it may not be too much of a struggle. In a worst-case scenario, after the division of assets you can perhaps choose which of the handbags (if any) will need to be sold for cash, and which ones you’d like to keep.