Why Valuing Assets is Important in a Divorce

Understanding how assets are valued when you are going through a divorce is vital.  Any item that has a value will be considered an “asset” in a divorce.    An asset could be your house, personal property, real property, checking accounts, savings accounts, 401K’s, pensions, inheritances – past and potential.  An asset may also be your cars, boats and recreational vehicles, sports collectables, coin or stamp collections and antiques.  When you begin the divorce process, realize that your antique Steinway piano, inherited from your great grandmother, is included as an asset.

When you are divorcing, all of your “assets” and those of your spouse are put into the “pot” of marital assets.   One goal of a divorce is to divide these assets between the spouses.   Sometimes you both will agree on the value of an asset.   Other times, an “expert” hired by  one or both of you may value the item.   Many people mistakenly assume a market analysis done by a realtor can be used to establish the value of a house.  A realtor may not be an “expert” recognized by the Court.  If you cannot agree, a certified appraiser will be the one to determine the value of your home.

Problems occur  when either side does not agree with the “value” of an asset.  “Dueling” experts may add to this disconnect.

You can limit the cost of a divorce  if you are able to agree on the value of your assets.  You both should be reasonably comfortable with your ability to assess value.  By doing this, you can avoid the cost of hiring an expert, and the cost of arguing with each other about any differences that might occur.   A joint appraiser may be used and the cost split between the parties.

A divorce can proceed forward more civilly if you both recognize this issue and discuss it with your attorney and one another.

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