How to Determine the Value of Possessions in a Divorce

By Jennifer Williams

During a marriage, it is easy to accumulate a lot of stuff. Both real and personal property are typically purchased jointly by married couples, so when the couple decides to divorce, all these items must be divided between them. Courts encourage couples to come to their own agreements about how to divide property and many do so. Methods of valuation vary depending on the nature of the property and whether your and your spouse are negotiating a settlement agreement or preparing for trial.

Real Estate

Real estate is typically the most expensive thing couples jointly own. A proper, professional appraisal is essential for two reasons: so the spouse who is keeping the property knows exactly how much he or she owes the other spouse and the property may be refinanced into the name of the spouse who is keeping the property. Also, if the value of the couple's real property becomes an issue for trial, a professional appraisal is required as evidence of the fair market value at the time of divorce.

Household Goods

The value of your household goods, such as furniture and clothing, is typically not included in a property settlement and courts do not attempt to divide these items unless you have an item of significant value, such as a museum-quality antique. You don't need to include regular household goods in your property settlement, but if you and your spouse are trying to informally divide the furniture, for example, you should use resale value rather than retail price. The resale value of such items can be determined by comparing the asking price for similar items in newspaper classified advertisements and eBay.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

High Value Personal Property

Couples lucky enough to own original art, antiques or jewelry can find themselves in for a headache during divorce. These items must be appraised for resale value as of a particular date, which may vary by jurisdiction. This date is usually either the date the couple physically separated or the date the divorce petition was filed. Local antique dealers and gallery owners often provide appraisal services, or any of the internationally known auction houses can refer a respected appraiser.

Automobiles

Valuation guides published by Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealer Association are the accepted standard in valuing automobiles. A photocopy from such a source or a print-out from a corresponding website is usually acceptable evidence of resale value in court. Collectible vehicles, however, should be appraised to ensure an accurate determination of resale value.

Financial Instruments and Accounts

Bank accounts, investment portfolios and retirement accounts can be valued by account statements. If, however, the portfolio includes unvested stock options, valuation can get difficult and may require the expertise of a licensed CPA with experience in divorce valuations.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Inventory & Appraisement in Divorce
 

References

Related articles

How to Estimate the Market Value of Assets in a Divorce

Judges and attorneys are predominantly concerned with the value of significant assets when a couple breaks up. You might love the recliner you lounge in while watching television every night, and you might be willing to fight to the death to keep it, but that’s usually an emotional battle. Unless it's a priceless antique, it won't figure into the property distribution equation. Courts value assets such as real estate, automobiles, pension and retirement plans, and valuable collectibles to ensure that you and your spouse each walk away with assets of equal worth.

How to Figure Home Equity in a Divorce

Equity in assets is a crucial part of property division in a divorce and the marital home is often a couple's most valuable asset. Most state laws require a home's equity to be determined by appraisal as part of the divorce process. It's important to identify equity because each spouse is entitled to a share of it as part of property division.

Valuation of Airline Miles in Divorce

When couples divorce, any property they acquired during the marriage is divided between them. This includes intangibles such as airline miles. However, placing a value on miles isn't always a straightforward process.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

How to Price the Worth of Household Goods for a Divorce

It doesn’t usually make a lot of sense to invest time, effort and attorney’s fees into quantifying your household goods ...

Jewelry in a Divorce

Jewelry, especially wedding and engagement rings, can be important symbols of a marriage as well as valuable assets, so ...

Is the Separation Date or Divorce Date Used for the Value of a House?

The marital home can be the most prized and contested item in a divorce. It is also an asset that can change value ...

Is a Wedding Ring Subject to Division in Divorce?

Unlike other pieces of jewelry, a wedding ring’s emotional value makes it a hot issue in many divorces. However, the ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED