Divorce means making major changes to one’s life and finances. Couples typically need to split up their property, which can be a frustrating process for everyone involved. First, spouses have to identify their most valuable assets. Then they need to establish whether they are separate or marital property and value those assets.
Finally, they have to negotiate a fair or equitable way of dividing those resources. If they don’t reach an agreement with one another outside of court, then a Georgia judge will apply the state’s equitable division statute to their property. When it comes to the biggest assets that couples share, like a marital home, determining the value of those assets can be as significant of a challenge as negotiating who should retain ownership of them. Given that a house is generally worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, there can be very intense disagreement about the actual value of a couple’s marital home.
The spouses need to know the fair market value
Some people are far too simplistic when putting together an inventory of assets. They might look at what they paid for certain resources. However, especially with assets that appreciate value over time, like real property, what people paid years ago for the home is likely not a reflection of what it is worth now.
The average selling price for single-family homes has gone up significantly in the last decade, and most people make improvements to their homes when they live there that will increase the value of the property. In some scenarios, the divorcing spouses simply agree on a value, possibly by meeting in the middle if they initially disagree on what the home is worth. Other times, they bring in professional help.
A real estate agent or appraiser can help establish a realistic fair market value for someone’s real property during a Georgia divorce. In high-conflict cases, people sometimes have two separate appraisals done and then split the difference between the value set by each appraiser. For most divorcing spouses, bringing in professional help will be important not when valuing major assets. Otherwise, they might make mistakes that result in them giving up tens of thousands of dollars in marital property value, which could ultimately drastically diminish what they have to rebuild their life with after the divorce.
Making sure that one receives a fair portion of the most valuable marital property in a divorce often requires multiple types of planning, including seeking professional guidance with the valuation process.