Determine Equity in Home Divorce Settlement

When a married couple is contemplating a divorce, if there is jointly owned property, an appraisal will almost always be necessary to determine how to divide the assets fairly and equitably when the divorce is final. There are professional appraisers to evaluate the property, as well as any and all other types of possessions the couple may own.

Partners should utilize the services of a certified or licensed appraiser. Usually your family lawyer will be able to handle this, however, business, real estate, estate planning & dispute resolution lawyers can also assist with and consult with your family lawyer to find accurate measures. When real estate type of property is to be valued, it is wise to use the services of a local appraiser who is familiar with economic evaluations, assessments, etc. Your attorney or CPA can usually suggest a good reviewer for you. Again, this can also be assisted with a business and estate lawyer or divorce lawyers.

The law(s) regarding the division of property and assets differs from state to state. Many people believe that all of the assets will be equally divided between spouses in a divorce process, but in fact, this is not necessarily the case. There can be many mitigating circumstances that affect the actual asset division. ¬†asks a few questions, “Some items to be considered include:

Was the property owned by one partner before the marriage?
Was the property a gift or inheritance to one spouse during the marriage?
Was the property acquired with funds that one partner brought into the marriage?

Was a prenuptial agreement signed before the wedding?
How was title taken to the property in question?
Has the asset increased in value since purchased? Was the increase due to the same investment of time and funds by both spouses?
Is the asset part of a business owned and operated outside the marriage?
Was the business in operation before the wedding?

It is suggested that both parties seek legal advice before ordering an appraisal. While some states use the date of separation as the usual time to determine values for asset division, other countries may deem any valuation should not occur until closer to the finalization of the divorce.

If there are investment properties and commercial real estate to be divided, you may need to obtain the services of more than one appraiser. For assets other than land, it is very likely that the services of at least one more appraiser will be required. For example, few appraisers are licensed to value antiques, artwork, or jewelry.

Surprisingly, it is not unusual for nonreal estate types of assets to exceed the value of a building, and certainly since the more recent drop in housing values, the amount of equity in real estate. When you start to consider automobiles, boats, motorcycles, expensive bicycles, jet skies, snow equipment, business equipment, cameras, motor homes, china, silver, collectibles, jewelry, pensions, and retirement plans, you can see that property division is critical, especially if the marriage has been of long duration.

In 2008, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) was formally adopted across the United States. The USPAP established a uniform set of regulations regarding education, testing, licensing and certification for all property appraisers in the country. The USPAP sets the standards for real estate, personal property, business and mass appraisal. However, licenses and certifications are still issued by each state.

Before you hire any appraiser to value any of your property, be sure to ask to see a copy of the state-issued license, and a copy of the E & O insurance, which protects you in the case of errors.