Dividing family assets is a difficult step during a divorce, especially with significant assets such as a house, rental property and stock options. Even in the most amicable divorces, it is challenging to split belongings with a former spouse.
Before you decide who gets the house, you need to assess the property and assets you have. Establishing the value of those belongings makes the division process easier for you and your spouse.
The house is usually the largest asset obtained during the marriage, and there are several ways you can determine its value:
- Home appraisal – a licensed appraiser establishes a value of the home in the current real estate market, this is the most accurate way to determine a home’s value.
- Comparative market analysis – a realtor provides a fair market value price for a residence by comparing homes in its area, this method is less accurate if there is renovations or significant aging on the house.
- Personal research – a homeowner researches through websites to determine a value and works with a partner to determine if the value is fair. Many courts won’t recognize research from websites as a proper valuation.
Typically, couples use a combination of these methods to find the best valuation. Then, they decide if one spouse will keep the property or if they should sell the house and split the profits.
Collections and memorabilia
A collection of baseball cards or comic books is eligible for the division if obtained during the marriage. Stamps, books, art and other collections could be particularly valuable depending on its current demand.
Bring the collection to an expert or buyer in that market for an evaluation. Let them explain the current value of your pieces and what you could potentially sell them for (if you want to sell).
The worst option is to hide the true value of a collection from a spouse. Your spouse can uncover its true value during the discovery phase of court. Then, they can demand a court order for half of your collection. It’s best for everyone to be open and honest right away.
Retirement plans are tricky to divide in court because different plans have different processes for splitting the funds. However, Texas is a community property state, so any retirement funds earned during the marriage are eligible for division.
Since retirement plans are a large asset for most people, it’s important to value what the retirement plan is for each person in the relationship. If you can settle on an agreement before going to court, it makes the division process easier for both parties.
Businesses are unique because one spouse is usually the owner. However, both spouses may have funded the company throughout the marriage. It depends on when the business opened and how joint funds were used.
The main evaluator for a company is “how much will someone pay for this?” Businesses could be worth millions depending on product, markets and the current economy, or they could be worth nothing. It relies on who is willing to purchase the business.
Typically, a business expert evaluates the business, and the court decides from their valuation on how the business will continue after a divorce.
There are assets every couple should value before the divorce, but consult with a financial advisor about which assets are most significant to your divorce. They can help you decide how to proceed.