Settle or Sell It –When Divorcing Couples Can’t Agree on Value

People collect all sorts of things, from stamps or movies to action figures or wine.  So when a couple separate, what happens about the collection?  Who gets it and what is it worth?

how to settle a divorce

The Collection of Books

In a recent property dispute, one of the biggest points for the Court to decide was the value to be placed on the husband’s collection of books.  How much were they worth and should an order be made they that were to be sold?  The book collection was clearly important to the husband and the Court said that he had a ‘considerable focus’ on it throughout the marriage.  Cash that they had been given as wedding gifts was used by him to buy books for his collection.  Even when the relationship was in decline and the wife’s parents gave them $10,000 to take a holiday to try to salvage the marriage, on the vacation the husband spent $2,000 buying books.  After that he insisted that the wife pay for renovations to the home to create storage facilities for his book collection.  She refused and the relationship went down-hill.

When parties to a relationship separate, the assets of the relationship are generally valued and divided as either agreed between the parties or as ordered by the Court.  But what happens when the parties simply can’t agree on what the assets are worth? The short answer is that the Court may order that the assets be sold in order to determine their true value.

Who Gets the Books?

In this case, although the husband asserted that the book collection was worth an estimated $183,905.00, the wife contended that it was worth more than double that amount at $384,421.00. Both parties had brought their own book collection “experts” to the table, however the Court did not accept their evidence because neither was able to show that they had any real expertise on the subject of valuing books.  The Court also considered that the wide differences between the valuations and the influence of a volatile market for specific property such as books made it difficult to ascertain a correct market value for the books.

The Court ordered that rather than any party maintaining the book collection that it be sold in its entirety and that the proceeds be divided proportionally.

If You Want It, Be Fair In Its Value

This is not an uncommon occurrence in family law matters, particularly in relation to real property. Though the parties may (unlike in this case) have credible experts willing to testify in Court, if they can’t come to any middle ground in relation to the property the Court may decide to elect an independent realtor to value and list the property for sale.

Though it is possible that the Court may allow the parties more time to obtain second appraisals, the Court is aware of its obligation to maintain the value of the property and have it dealt with promptly. This is particularly relevant for assets which:

  • may fall into a state of decline if neither party is named as the owner;
  • may decrease in value if not dealt with promptly, such as with company shares;
  • is subject to a loan and may incur debts if neither party is able or willing to continue paying said loan; and/or
  • may incur damage from either party.

The Court’s priority in property settlements is to distribute the property in a way that achieves the most efficient and fairest result for both parties. It is important for parties to a divorce to remember that if they don’t want to sell an asset of the relationship for any reason they should be reasonable when it comes to agreeing on the value of the asset.

Should you have any queries in relation to family law and property disputes, the family law experts at Websters Lawyers would be happy to answer your questions with a free no obligation consultation. You can call and speak to one of our friendly specialists on 8231 1363 or contact us here.

Isaacson & Isaacson [2019] FCCA 522 (6 March 2019)





call now

*Conditions Apply


Having such a short time frame I was very impressed with the outcome made by [my solicitor]. Excellent and timely manner


Kurralta Park

Very professional mannerism and overall great outcome was delivered by Websters Lawyers.


West Ryde NSW

Helpful, explained fully, patient, excellent service.



Patient and helpful in explaining the process.



Call Websters Lawyers for a most professional and friendly service. All understanding with [my solicitors] and the reception staff. Thank you so much.



Making my will was effortless on my part, with everything explained clearly. Well done to all.



Great service, professional, explains things clearly, definitely recommend Websters Lawyers.


Upper Hermitage

Patient, professional, good communication about procedures and probable outcomes.



Thank you for all your work over the course of the case. You [both] were always very approachable and I appreciated your understanding and professionalism in all areas.


Christie Downs

All in all my experience was great. Thank you for your time and expertise.


Seacombe Gardens

My matter was dealt with efficiently and was explained in an understandable language. A pleasant experience.



Practical and very helpful. Reasons and explanations given where needed



I stumbled across Websters in the Yellow Pages and I rang, explained my situation and immediately they took my case on. Greatly appreciate their services.



The service from Websters Lawyers was outstanding. [My solicitor] was caring, had patience and was very professional. Wonderful personality.



[My solicitor] made everything so simple to understand. [The receptionist] was wicked too, would recommend them anytime. Level of entire service was outstanding.


Golden Grove


I had dealings with Websters over 20 years ago. They were my first choice when I recently needed legal advice. Both legal and office staff were professional, courteous and accessible at all times. Everything was explained up front in a clear and concise manner. I would not hesitate to recommend their services.



It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you throughout the process. I really appreciate your patient and speedy replies to my questions and requests. You were always able to provide an easily understood response and this helped me deal with the process. Your friendly and positive manner encouraged me to seek your advice.


Battery Hill QLD

[My lawyer's] service was prompt and efficient with all questions explained clearly with all our requests carried out within the laws. Overall service was very satisfactory.


Wynn Vale

[My lawyer] was excellent. 



Excellent service. Professional. Clear advice and instructions. Prompt actions. Overall 10/10!


Ingle Farm

Overall, I was happy with my outcome and my lawyer, would definitely recommend [my lawyer].



[My solicitor] was excellent at helping us through preparing our wills which were particularly challenging as they involved assets in multiple countries. She was professional and knowledgeable and spent time tailoring the wills to our needs.



[My solicitor] was very helpful, respectful and polite. She made sure I understood the process and documentation of our wills.



Professional. Smooth Transaction. 


Largs North

I found the whole experience from Receptionist to Solicitor excellent. They completely put us at our ease.



This was a new experience for us and didn’t have a clue what to do. [Our solicitor] on our first visit put us at ease, explained what will happen, pointed out there was a strong case. [Our solicitor] was genuine in her approach, kept us well informed, explained actions several times with patience and understanding. Overall very happy with the service we received.


Elizabeth Vale

[My lawyer] was very reassuring in her approach to my case. I felt that every possibility in terms of evidence to provide and possible outcomes were explained to me, The result of the case was the best possible outcome I could have expected.

David, Belair


With no previous dealing with the criminal justice system, [our solicitor] gave us excellent advice and guided us through a nightmare to achieve a just and correct outcome. [Our lawyer] was both forthright and compassionate in her handling of our case.

Malcolm, Belair

[My lawyer] explained all the legal terms in language I could understand – she was very easy to talk to.

Cameron, Munno Para

I felt confident knowing my matter was in good hands. Very professional!

Shravan, Christie Downs

Initial phone call was fantastic and the role of an executor was fully explained.

Penny, Henley Beach

The service I received was efficient and promptly finalised. The solicitor clearly explained the details and I was happy with how easy it was.

Dale, Fairview Park

[My lawyer] was exactly the lawyer I needed in a serious matter. The outcome was as predicted which was a fantastic result. I received prompt professional and personal service at all times. Capable and supportive in a very stressful period.

Jason, Munno Para West

I had any of my concerns answered to my satisfaction and understanding.

Valda, Ingle Farm

[My lawyer] is an excellent professional lawyer who assisted in achieving a great positive outcome/result. I sincerely thank you and your great staff for your assistance and guidance throughout my claim. Would highly recommend [my lawyer], staff and Websters Lawyers. Kept fully informed and guided, professionally throughout the matter.

Rena, Northgate

Our work was dealt with very efficiently and speedily. Our lawyer was very professional, at the same time as being approachable. Communication was great.

Christina, Highbury

My experience with Websters Lawyers was far beyond what I expected. From the moment I spoke to [my lawyer] she made me feel very comfortable and eased my stress. In my case I had a court appearance the day before we were scheduled to fly to Spain, Considering my first appointment with her was only 2 weeks before the court hearing, she was able to obtain the police statement and thoroughly work on my case within that limited time frame. She was very knowledgeable, understanding and confident which greatly relieved so much pressure from me and my family. At court, she explained everything thoroughly and advised me of all the possible outcomes. Price, service and result, very highly recommended. Thank you Websters Lawyers.

Rafael, Davoren Park

I have high expectations and they were met. Websters service was swift, courteous, professional and met the agreed budget. I will recommend Websters to my family, friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Peter, Forestville

I would recommend Websters Lawyers, especially for [my lawyer's] dedication and exemplary attitude and advice. She is the epitome of a good lawyer. The service was impeccable.

Pamela, West Lakes

[My lawyer] was very professional and I was made comfortable to understand.

Gregory, Penfield

I was very pleased with the end result and how well [my lawyer] conducted herself.

Sonya, Glanville

Very professional.

Jesse, Morphett Vale

[My lawyer] has been very prompt , reliable and provided a high level of communication.

Peter, Parkside

My experience at Websters was very positive. The stress was taken from me and I could not be happier with the outcome. [My lawyer] at Websters was professional, personable, available and caring. Thank you for making the experience stress free.

Magda, Holden Hill

Found my lawyer upfront and reliable – I would highly recommend Websters Lawyers.

Lee, Evanston Park


Top bunch of solicitors and admin staff. Very friendly and to the point service.

Bradley, Hallett Cove

Websters Lawyers were very professional in their service, I would be happy to recommend them.

Carole, Tea Tree Gully

We would not hesitate in recommending Websters for any legal matter. They are professional and courteous at all times and call back when they say they will.

David and Dianne, Lockleys


I fully recommend Websters Lawyers. This was the 3rd time myself & my family have used Websters Lawyers. In these stressful times we have found them to answer and guide us through the process needed to accomplish the legal requirements in a timely and courteous manner.

Dianne, Lynton

Solid, to the point, no hustle. Highly recommend.

George, Windsor Gardens

Contact us

Adelaide Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8231 1363
F: ( 08 ) 8231 5529

Ridgehaven Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8395 8000
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

Smithfield Office :
T: ( 08 ) 8487 0150
F: ( 08 ) 8395 8222

© Copyright 2017 All Rights Reserved
Website By A to Z Marketing