Here at The Law Offices of Dorie A. Rogers, APC, we advise our divorce clients in a wide range of legal issues related to dividing their property between themselves and their spouses. When the assets in question are of high value or unique character, it is critical to assign values that are accurate and reasonable for purposes of proper property division.
Broadly, California is a community property state, so property and income acquired during the marriage (or domestic partnership) up to the date of separation by either spouse or jointly becomes community property to be divided equally at divorce. Property brought into the marriage that was owned singly before or that was gifted to or inherited by either spouse individually is that spouse's separate property, kept by him or her in divorce.
To see that community property is actually divided equally, a fair and accurate value must be placed on each asset. Of course, this question becomes extremely important as the value of the community estate grows and the assets within it represent significant wealth.
Part of the property evaluation process is to retain qualified professionals who understand the nature of the property in question and how its value is properly assigned. Those experts can include:
- Forensic accountants
- Real estate brokers and appraisers
- Antique experts
- Art historians and appraisers
- Business and professional practice evaluators
- Other specialized appraisers and financial professionals
The kinds of assets associated with wealth that may be involved can include:
- Real estate holdings, both local, out of state and abroad
- Time shares
- High-end vehicles
- Yachts and boats
- Coin collections
- Fine art
- Stocks and bonds
- Race horses
- Furniture and rugs
- Second homes and vacation property
- Foreign currency and accounts
- Retirement benefits and pensions
- Ownership interests in businesses and professional practices
- Family businesses, including goodwill and reputation
- Commercial leases
- Life insurance
- Intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights
- Executive compensation benefits like bonuses, stock options, commissions and perks
- And others
Assigning a fair value to a business is one particularly complicated question. According to a recent article in Truck News, 39 different methods of business valuation exist. An attorney can help to locate the appropriate expert for the particular type of business, one who will have the professional knowledge and judgment to understand the right valuation methodology for purposes of property division in divorce.
Similarly, it can be financially important to have unique property evaluated by a specialist. For example, a typical jeweler may be able to appraise most jewelry, but a piece that is an antique or that was made by a famous historical company may require a more specialized jewelry appraiser.
Consult a lawyer about property valuation matters in divorce. This is only an introduction to the issues that can arise. For example, if there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, that contract may change the nature of certain property involved. Another related question is proper valuation and division of debt and liability.