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Joey81

Artist's Portfolio Value In Divorce

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I'm looking for case law or guidelines to help me with an appeal of my divorce ruling.

 

I am a luthier, and my living has entailed repair/maintenance of instruments. I've never sold any of my hand made instruments, but in the 5 years of my marriage I devoted some time to private study with a world renowned instrument maker, and expanded my portfolio of works for sale as I prepared to move towards self employment. I also acquired some works for sale, which is marked up at 100%. My separation/divorce started shortly after I quit my job and began working part time for myself while also pursuing other employment opportunities. 

 

In the final divorce ruling the court valued all my instruments at 80% of retail, which is far above my replacement/purchase cost (50% of retail). I am appealing the order pro-se since I'm out of money, and I'd appreciate suggestions for arguments or case law on these issues. 

 

1. The value of my self-made instruments is 95% labor, very little materials, and have never sold one that I've made. Some are 5 years old by the time of divorce. I testified in court that the private study and making of these instruments was primarily about expanding a portfolio for job seeking, and expanding my skills because we moved to a new state for my wife's job and I had to settle for work that would be damaging to my career if I didn't continue studies and have some examples of modern work. I would assert that these are like an unpublished manuscript who's value is theoretical. It should not be valued at or near retail.

 

2. Can I compare with value of hand made products for insurance or charitable contributions? I've been told that if my instruments burned in a fire or donated they would be valued at cost of materials, not retail. Isn't there an argument to be made that this is not equitable?

 

3. After separation I purchased $26,000 (net cost) of inventory and sold half of it. I paid child support based on my earnings, but have $14,000 of inventory left over. The court valued it at $22,000 and shorted me on equity from the house because of this asset, but did not distribute the $14,000 in debt on the inventory. I would argue that the value is replacement cost, not retail, and debt needs to be accounted for, thus the value is nullified.

 

4. I pay child support based on income and distributing value of inventory for sale based on retail means she is awarded part of the profit before sale is made, and I will pay her again when I sell it (in child support) as well as tax, but can't write off part of that debt. 

 

Thanks.

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The only actual question in your post seems to be in numbered paragraph 2:  Sure there's an argument to be made.  Was one made during trial, and was that argument supported by evidence that the court admitted?  "I've been told" is meaningless.

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On 1/22/2019 at 12:06 PM, pg1067 said:

The only actual question in your post seems to be in numbered paragraph 2:  Sure there's an argument to be made.  Was one made during trial, and was that argument supported by evidence that the court admitted?  "I've been told" is meaningless.

 

The question is what case law can be cited to help in appeal on these issues.

 

1. Court assessed value is greater than replacement value (for a wholesale purchaser) 

2. Court did not consider debt on the inventory

3. I was paying child support already, so purchasing something with remaining income should have no bearing on division of assets.

4. How to determine value of home-made artistic works. 

 

Thanks.

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No one on any internet message board is going to research case authority for you, and no one who follows these boards regularly is from Vermont.  Consult with a local family law attorney.

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On 1/29/2019 at 11:36 AM, pg1067 said:

No one on any internet message board is going to research case authority for you, and no one who follows these boards regularly is from Vermont.  Consult with a local family law attorney.

 

I'm not asking anyone to do research, but I was hoping that someone who deals with valuation issues regularly might suggest some case law that they reference regularly. I thought that in considering equitability that case law could be pulled from outside VT as long as it is dealing with general rule of law and not contradicting local law. The factors determining division of property are rather vague.

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2 hours ago, Joey81 said:

The factors determining division of property are rather vague.

and are uniquely delegated to  the judgment of the trial court judge.  Generally, only cases decided by appellate courts are reported and of  any precedential value.  Valuation issues are generally issues that are not reviewed by an appellate court since they are factual matters delegated to the trial courts.  So, it would be extraordinary to find a case dealing with such an esoteric issue as you have posed.

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On 2/2/2019 at 3:10 PM, Joey81 said:

I thought that in considering equitability that case law could be pulled from outside VT as long as it is dealing with general rule of law and not contradicting local law.

 

Especially in a state like Vermont -- the second least populated state and which presumably does not generate a high volume of published opinions -- courts may very well consider case authority from other states.  However, the chances that anyone on an internet message board is going to know a sufficiently on-point case off the top of his/her head are beyond slim.

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