Who Gets the Guns?
Guns and division of property in divorce
When going through a divorce, the division of property can make gun owners very nervous. Even if the firearm was obtained prior to or during the marriage, it will likely be considered marital property when it comes to the division of property unless the gun was:
- a gift
- purchased with separate funds that were either gifted or inherited, and completely separated from marital funds the marriage.
While a court may take notice of who the gun is registered to or who did the background check on it, these are by no means controlling factors when a judge sits down to legally divide property.
Since the law allows for an equal property division but often only one spouse wants the firearms: the other one just wants their half of the value. This creates all kinds of issues about understanding and valuing collections, no matter how large or small. It can also lead to issues and questions about registration of title 2 weapons such as suppressors, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, full automatics, etc. There can also be questions about, if liquidation is appropriate, the best way to maximize value for all parties.
In a divorce, the court will strive to create an even and equitable distribution of assets. However, this does not mean we have to cut things in half down the middle. The division must be weighed equally in the scales of justice. In valuing the total marital estate, you can trade one piece of marital property for another. Therefore, if a party is really set on keeping their guns, that party may have to part with another desired item of similar value.
Due to the various accessories and additions that come with owning a gun, the assessed value of the division of guns can be quite substantial. When you combine the gun itself with the ammunition, scopes, eye and ear protection, cleaning supplies, holsters, gun safes the total cost can add up very quickly.
Valuing the gun itself has a number of factors, including the collectability of the gun, the completeness and correctness of all parts involved, condition, and the comparability to similar guns. Where rare or older firearms are concerned there can also be fluctuating market and auction prices to consider. The reason a party would need to assign a value to the gun and associated paraphernalia would be to give value in the whole pot of property division in order to equally divide property. If parties are not able to come to an agreed-upon value, they can request a personal property appraisal or take the property to a gun broker. This is a gamble on both sides as the appraisal could come back significantly higher or lower than the proposed value.
If you have questions and how to best ensure you can keep your guns in a divorce, contact Divergent family law today. Our firm is knowledgeable and educated on property division and guns and are waiting to answer your questions today!