By Jim DeMay
In part one of this series of posts about property division upon divorce, we explored the first step of the equitable distribution process – identification – where property is classified as either “marital”, “separate”, or “divisible.” After all the property is properly classified, the next step is for the court to value all of the “marital” property. This means assigning a fair market value to each item of marital property on the date of separation.
The first step in the valuation process is that the parties will each file with the court an Equitable Distribution Inventory Affidavit, where the parties list, and assign values to, each item of marital property. The standard for valuation is the amount that a willing buyer would pay to a willing seller. Some property items are easy to value – for example, the value of a bank account or retirement account can be shown by an account statement at or near the date of separation. Other items, such as homes and vehicles, may require independent appraisers or other experts if the parties cannot agree on a fair value.
It is important to remember that property is valued on the date of separation – not at the time of trial. In cases where parties have been separate for several years prior to trial, this can often make a significant difference. For this reason it is important to get qualified appraisals of any property items where value may be disputed as soon as possible after separation. Any passive appreciation or depreciation in the value of an item of property is “divisible” property, which was discussed in part one of these posts.
The final step for the trial court is to “divide” the marital property, which will be considered in the final segment of these posts. Call 704-788-3211 to learn more from a Concord divorce attorney.