The Judge Judy lawsuit over some very expensive china and flatware has apparently settled. Former model Patric Jones had alleged that her ex-husband sold the expensive goods to Judge Judy Sheindlin of television fame for far less than the goods were worth.
This, despite the fact that the china was community property in California – something the judge should have known. Judge Judy reportedly paid $50,000 for the goods that another judge valued at $125,000.
This is fun celebrity stuff when the people involved are wealthy, but wedding china can sometimes constitute a meaningful portion of disputed assets in cases that don’t involve highly paid individuals.
As we wrote recently in Something Old: Finding Antiques, personal property that doesn’t require licensing or title registration, such as cars, boats or aircraft can present a special challenge. We advised that a good way to proceed is to check insurance records as well as local storage facilities for big expensive things.
The problem with wedding china is that like cash, you can fit a lot of value into a box that sits snugly in the back of a car. But what asset searches have going for them is what Patric Jones had: knowledge beforehand that the asset exists. These are, in the end, the easiest things to trace because both spouses have good knowledge of their existence and – even better – documentary evidence in the form of a wedding registry.
Unless a marriage goes bad on day one, both spouses should always know what they got for wedding presents. Therefore, when looking for assets, we always find it critical to get a full catalogue from our clients about the assets they know are present, not to mention an extensive questionnaire that helps us find as much as we can.
You can see more on the way we approach this issue here, including an entire continuing legal education course we give on marital asset searches.