Married couples, particularly those who have been married a long time, often accumulate many assets over the years. They may accumulate different types of assets including:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Investment portfolios
- Stocks and bonds
- Employment benefits
- Retirement accounts
- Personal property (e.g., artwork, jewelry, or antiques)
Valuing an asset is essential to the property-division process
Under Indiana’s equitable property division laws, courts will determine how to divide marital property fairly and equitably. Before any property division occurs; however, courts must determine how much each high-value marital asset is worth. The value of the asset can be obvious, but not always. For example, it may not be clear how much a business or art piece is worth just by looking at it and the item may appreciate or depreciate over time.
How is value determined?
There are several standards that can be used to determine the value of an asset. One common method is to determine the fair market value of the property at the time of the separation. This refers to how much a buyer would be willing to pay a seller at that time.
The court may also consider the book value (purchase price minus depreciation of the item), replacement value (cost to buy the asset new), and sentimental value (your personal attachment to the asset).
Appraisers may be used to determine the value of an item. Ideally, both spouses will agree on one appraiser to inspect the property and provide their unbiased opinion on the value of the property for which the court can rely. If the spouses cannot agree, they may each hire their own appraiser and submit separate reports for the court to evaluate. A family law attorney can help make sure your marital property is valued correctly and help you fight for the things you want out of your divorce.