January 4, 2023

Falling values: Creativity required for family law attorneys to help divorce clients in uncertain economy

Written By

Kelly A. Lonnberg
Member, Stoll Keenon Ogden PLLC

By: Marilyn Odendahl, The Indiana Lawyer, January 4, 2023

Although the question of what to do with the family car is commonly asked when couples are divorcing, the decision became more fraught in 2021, when the global disruption brought on by the pandemic caused used-car prices to soar to new-car levels.

Kelly Lonnberg, member at Stoll Keenon Ogden’s Evansville office and chair of the firm’s family law practice, described the rise in used car values as one of the “individual weirdnesses” that family lawyers have been encountering in these economically uncertain times….

“It just seems like the stress of getting divorced is higher in the last three years than it was prior to that,” Lonnberg said. “Nothing’s really calmed down. You would think after the COVID numbers start going down that this would feel like a less stressful job, and somehow it has not.”

With the supply of new cars stalled, the price of used cars skyrocketed. Consequently, Lonnberg had clients with 2- and 3-year-old cars that were commanding prices higher than what they had paid when the vehicle was new. Thus, the question became whether to use the “jacked up number” on the marital balance sheet, because the value of the vehicle would probably plummet once the supply chains were functioning.

Lonnberg said the answer depends on what the spouse intends to do with the car.

“If they’re going to profit from the increased value then it’s probably legitimate number to include in the marital balance sheet,” she said. “But if… they’re going to keep driving it until the price of it does go back down, then maybe we use the number from before the supply chain kinked up.”

Read the full story to learn more about the impact of the current economy on divorce cases. Contact Kelly Lonnberg about your individual family law needs.

Written By