During a divorce, couples may disagree about the best way to divide their shared property. In Washington State, all of the couple’s property, including their home, their vehicles, and their businesses, can be appraised and split up.
If the couple cannot reach an agreement as to how their assets should be divided or if the couple disagrees about the value of certain assets, they may need to hire professional appraisers, accountants or other experts to step in to value the property fairly.
Appraisers and accountants accurately estimate the value of things like antiques or family heirlooms. Any experts or appraisers hired will be paid for by the couple, and must be neutral parties who aren’t biased toward either spouse.
When a home needs to be valued, the couple can choose to either sell the house and split the profits, or have the house appraised. During an appraisal, a real estate expert will conduct a market analysis of comparable homes in the area which have been recently sold or are listed for sale. The real estate expert will also take into consideration special features like a pool or an upgraded kitchen when making his or her appraisal.
Experts will also take into consideration the appreciation and depreciation of any property. For example, just because a car was purchased several years ago for $10,000 does not mean that it is still worth $10,000. The current, actual value of the item will be taken into consideration to give couples an accurate picture of the amount of property that they own.
When couples own real estate, a business, investments, or stock portfolios, the issue of property division becomes even more complicated. Often, spouses will need to hire accountants or other financial professionals who can accurately value these items, in light of their potential to increase or decrease in value.
Regardless of what types of assets a couple owns, the steps in dividing property are the same. First, the court will determine whether the property is owned by the couple jointly or is considered separate. If the property is marital property, it will either be sold or valued by an expert. Next, the court will equitably divide the property between the spouses, taking into consideration each person’s wants and needs. Finally, the court will issue an order which will determine which spouse keeps which property, which property will be sold, and which debts each spouse will be responsible for paying after the divorce is finalized.
Fairly and accurately dividing property and debts in a divorce case often requires the help of a skilled Washington family law attorney. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have many techniques at their disposal to help divorcing couples split marital property in an equitable way, and achieve great successes using mediation, collaboration, and other dispute resolution methods.
For help dividing marital property in a divorce, contact us today by calling 509-572-3700.