When it comes to divorce, figuring out assets and debts are part of the couple’s marital property is only one step. Once the parties and the court know what is in the marital pool, it is necessary to figure out for sure what those items are worth.
Valuation of assets is easy enough when it comes to a joint checking account that the couple opened after they got married. But if the couple own substantial assets like a small business, real estate or motor vehicles, determining the value of those things can be more complex.
According to the Virginia Bar Association, an accurate valuation can require documents like real estate appraisal reports, income tax returns, and Internet valuation of the couple’s autos and boats. A business can be evaluated by accountants. The value of investments like stocks and bonds can change daily, but the latest financial page of the newspaper or other periodical can be useful.
For most items, their value is set as of the date of the evidentiary hearing or trial, though retirement plans and debts are exceptions.
The family law judge will generally encourage divorcing spouses to try to negotiate a settlement, but if the parties cannot agree, the judge will split up the property. Once he or she understands the value of the marital property, factors in dividing it include:
- The duration of the marriage.
- What each spouse contributed to the marriage, both in terms of monetary and nonmonetary benefits.
- What contributed to the decision to divorce, such as certain grounds for divorce, if they apply.
Most people going through divorce want their fair share of the marital assets. The best way to achieve this is to hire an experienced divorce attorney to represent you.