Using an appraiser in a high asset Virginia divorce

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Family Law, High-Asset Divorce |

Dividing assets in a Virginia divorce is never easy, but the dividing of assets in a high-asset divorce, that is, a divorce in which either or both spouses own substantial assets, can be especially difficult.

If the assets, for example, the family home, have been owned by the couple for ten years or more, the question of value can depend as much on subjective attitudes as a rational market analysis.

Also, assets for which there is no ready market, such as works of art, can be difficult to value for much the same reason. Using a professional appraiser can help a couple solve these valuation issues.

Choosing an appraiser

Appraisers are usually judged by their adherence to professional ethical standards and their accumulated expertise.

The American Appraisal Institute publishes a set of written ethical standards called Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (“USPAP”). Most reliable appraisal firms openly state that they follow the USPAP guidelines.

An appraiser’s relative expertise can best be judged by the opinion of former clients or attorneys that have used their services.

The role of an appraiser in a divorce

According to USPAP, the appraiser’s role is to provide an impartial opinion on the fair market value of the family home, assuming that both the seller and buyer are both willing and informed about current market conditions.

An appraiser will first make a thorough inspection of the home and will carefully measure the dimensions of the lot and each room. The appraiser will note the presence of certain features such as a remodeled kitchen or master bedroom suite.

The appraiser will compare the features of the subject property to other properties that have recently changed hands in the neighborhood.

After completing the inspection and review of sales of comparable properties, the appraiser will deliver a written report providing an impartial opinion as to the fair market value of the property.

Uses of appraiser’s opinionX

The appraisers report can be used in different ways. If both parties agree with the appraiser’s opinion as to value, they can include the net value of the home in their inventory of assets. Another option is to use the appraiser to negotiate the sale of the home to a third party. If neither option works, the appraiser’s report will become an exhibit at trial and will be used by the judge to divide the couple’s assets.