In a dissolution of marriage action, both parties are responsible for providing each other, as well as the court, information regarding the value of their assets. Gathering all available documentation of assets accrued during the marriage and properly dividing marital property is crucial to successfully completing the divorce process.
Valuation of personal property, furniture, and household goods is based upon a current “fair market value”. This generally means what you could reasonably sell an item for at the present date, such as “garage sale” prices. Moreover, you can easily obtain book values for automobiles through internet resources or by contacting car dealerships. With respect to homes, a real estate broker can prepare a market analysis for minimal or no charge. Other key documents, such as titles to automobiles and deeds for any real property, are important in the valuation process. If you do not have access to these documents you can obtain them from the motor vehicle department or the clerk and recorder’s offices.
Next, you may want to obtain a current credit report will provide information regarding your creditors. A credit report can also be useful in verifying debts of either party and to review the debt history from your marriage.
In addition, both parties need to provide historical statements of all financial accounts such as bank accounts and accounts with investment or brokerage firms. You should try to obtain the value of each of the accounts both as of the date of marriage and at the present. If this information is not forthcoming your spouse, you may need a lawyer to obtain financial information by subpoena or other, formal court processes, such as “discovery”.
Finally, if there is a business interest involved, you will need to determine the best valuation method for the business. A common valuation method is called the “book value” of the business, whereby the liabilities of the business is detracted from the value of the assets, resulting in the net equity of the business. There are many forms of business valuations and some are very costly. Complex business valuations may require expert opinions. It is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney regarding business concerns.