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Timeshares – A Unique "Asset"

In a divorce, parties either work to split assets and liabilities or the Court rules on these issues. While none of these decisions or rulings are pleasant to address or deal with, many, at the least, are fairly clear to most as to how it is addressed, even if they don't agree on the terms. There is one item however, which many, including some who work in family law, are not as clear on, timeshares.


Timeshares are a unique type of asset/liability; they are tricky to value, difficult at best to sell, and frequently neither spouse wants to keep it. So, what are the options?


Unique or not, timeshares are dealt with much as other real property. The options are relatively simple though some options are more difficult than others.


SELL


Often neither spouse wants to maintain the timeshare. Why? If the memories formed there are not enough of a disincentive, the, the cost, fees and location often are.


You’ve committed to this one location or resort service every year indefinitely. It is a waste to vacation elsewhere while paying for this timeshare so, it can alter your future vacation options. Then there’s the ever-increasing maintenance fees that seem to rise at a rate much higher than even remotely reasonable. Maintenance fees that start at $150 per year can rise to $800 per year or more over the course of just a few years.


If you find this to be your circumstances, then it's likely neither you nor your spouse wants to take ownership of this "asset" upon divorce. It's time to sell it, split the proceeds (in the rare case there are any) or share in the remaining liability.


Few things depreciate more rapidly and more fully then timeshares. There is a very strong likelihood that you will lose on this sale. With rare exceptions, the moment you've signed the contract, it has already started to depreciate.


But, how do you sell it? There are brokers who deal exclusively in timeshares but, finding one that is above-board and doesn't crush you in fees can be difficult. The Federal Trade Commission points out certain red flags for consumers to be aware of if they choose to use a broker to sell their timeshare.


Three companies who have been around for several years and, at least by Travel Magazine, were viewed as reasonable and reliable can be found here.


SHARE IT AND BEAR IT


For all the downsides and potential negatives about timeshare ownership, not all experiences are bad. Sometimes, both parties want to keep and use the timeshare.


You’re paying for it so you are likely accustomed to using it. This already expended cost relieves a lot of the financial trepidation many feel when looking to vacation. Some truly love the resort, with its amenities, that they’ve invested in. Often, you can transfer your timeshare points to another resort which is one of the more appealing aspects.


If this is you, then sharing the timeshare may be an option.


It would mitigate the financial loss you might suffer if you sold the timeshare. The downside is that it will force you to keep some level of communication and financial involvement with your former spouse. However, any thought of this arrangement would only be possible if you and your spouse truly are still good friends who can co-exist fully autonomously. Even in the best of post-divorce relationships, things could be impossible the first time you or your spouse wants to bring their new girlfriend/boyfriend to a place with former marital memories.


If you and your spouse are going to ‘share it and bear it,’ you’ll want to be sure that you include the details of this in your separation agreement. Who will the timeshare paperwork and bills be sent to? How will you split the maintenance fee? What happens if that person fails to pay? Which weeks will each spouse take? What if you want to swap weeks? What if you want to cash in points to use at another resort? All of these questions can and should be addressed in your agreement so that there are no surprises down the road.


BUY OUT


Whether in mediation, Court or face-to-face negotiations, there is always an asset that one spouse cares more about than the other. It is seemingly inevitable. Sometimes it is something both equally want but, one party may be willing to sell their share of.


Be it location, memories or possible actual value that makes one spouse want to keep the timeshare and the other spouse is fine with that.


If this case, the spouse that wants the property will need to buy-out the interest of the other spouse. You might, in the course of negotiations, make other concessions in exchange for the timeshare but, what if you must buy-out your spouse? The surrendering spouse will need to be prepared to execute a Quit Claim Deed and the purchasing spouse will need to buy out the other's interest. But, what is their interest really? What is its value really?

Unfortunately, this may actually require a professional appraisal if the parties cannot agree on the value and any potential equity.


In some cases, a timeshare is an asset, in others it is a liability. You’ll need to let your attorney dig into the paperwork and view the transactions related to your timeshare. However, if one spouse would truly rather just walk away from the share, you might not even need to place a value on it.


THE BOTTOM LINE


Your timeshare is an asset (or a liability), and if it is marital, it’s subject to division just like all other marital property. You need to give some thought to how you want to approach this asset and discuss your options with your attorney or mediator.

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