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A Home’s Value

He came home from a grueling day of back-breaking work, eyes squinting against the evening sunshine cascading through the room. Trusting his keys to fall on the table by the door, the clang of metal striking the floor jarred him from his sluggish thoughts. Scanning the interior of the living room before him, once decorated with plush couches and heavily filled bookcases, he could only spy an oversized cardboard box resting next to the lone piece of furniture now in the room: to his favorite lounge chair.

His brain could not make the scene before him make sense with the contrast of the memory he had from this morning. He could have sworn he’d scooped up his jacket off the back of the couch, snagged his car keys from the console table before heading out the door to start his day.

Taking a few steps inside the living room to look down at the box, he spied a few picture frames stacked up. The top one being the wedding photo from two months ago.

Dust mots floating serenely in juxtaposition to his racing thoughts as he fished his cell phone from his pocket. One text message. From his Wife. One hour ago.

All it said was, “I moved into my own place. I don’t want to do this any more. I am filing for divorce. My lawyer will be in touch.” In cruel irony, his phone pinged with a bank reminder to pay the mortgage.

…At least she left his favorite chair…

Fourteen months later, fourteen mortgage payments later, the Judge crunched the numbers before making a ruling. How does “equitable” mean fair, when his soon-to-be-ex-Wife was demanding half of the equity in the home he maintained, he paid for, he renovated for the past fourteen months? Hell, he had to refurnish it because she even took the washer and dryer.

His lawyer had done an admirable job arguing the appraisal he obtained barely a month after his soon-to-be-ex-Wife left him was the appropriate value to assess the marital equity, rather than the opposition which was demanding nearly $30,000.00 more.

Only after one night of sleeping in that lounge chair did he sit down with an attorney. Her first piece of advise was to hire an appraiser to evaluate the home immediately. It was the best investment. Because fourteen months later, he had his ducks in a row. And when the Judge looked up from the math and announced her ruling, it truly was equitable.

Jess Lill

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