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Role of Valuation Experts in Divorce

Role of Valuation Experts in Divorce

Property division between the spouses is an important issue in a divorce proceeding. Ascertaining the correct and proper value of the assets and properties of the spouses is key to ensuring a fair and equitable division of the parties' assets. The advice of an expert, who is skilled either by training, special knowledge, education or experience in the specific field beyond the knowledge of an ordinary layman, will be of great help for clearly defining and ascertaining the value of property for future divisions and tax procedures, etc. A common example would be an accountant with specific knowledge of the formulas utilized to calculate the present value of various retirement interests.

Many valuation questions arise in divorce cases involving pension plans, partnerships, other closely held business or corporation, jewelry and other collectibles such as expensive artifacts, souvenirs, or paintings. If the divorcing couple cannot afford to employ an expert, counsel may apply to the court for an award of interim fees to pay for the services of an expert. Expert fees are a part of expenses that are involved in a divorce petition.

If the divorcing spouses own a closely held business, an expert may be needed to assess the distinctive nature and value of separate property of the spouses. In general, accountants, business strategists, surveyors, home appraiser, custody evaluator, actuary, real estate brokers, loan evaluators, consultants either free lancers or employees of banks or financial institutions, agents etc are considered as experts. The experts can help in the discovery process as well.

An expert bridges the gap of understanding complex financial terms, and breaks it into simple language for easy understanding by a layman. When divorce proceedings involve complex property issues, the role of an expert witness can be critical in helping to determine the value of the parties' assets.

Copyright 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

Collaborative Practice

Tonda L. Mattie is a collaborative divorce attorney who abandoned the adversarial divorce process in favor of the collaborative approach more than 15 years ago. She brings more than 36 years of experience with divorce and family law to the settlement table.

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