Deborah Zitomer Esquire, LLC
Advocating for Families In Norristown and Montgomery County Since 1990

Honest Appraisal Is Important During A Divorce

Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that manages to cover every possible future (and often even then), the longest and hardest part of any divorce is dividing the property fairly between the two spouses. Not every family has a million dollars in assets or owns half a dozen businesses, but fairly dividing the assets is just as important (if not more so) for families without a lot of money. After all, when there's less money to go around, it's that much more important that it go to the person who deserves and needs it.

Of course, most families don't keep all their net worth in an easily divided savings account. Families own houses, furniture, home electronics, cars, stocks, bonds, IRAs, and much more. You could sell everything, convert it all into cash, and divide the pile evenly and it still wouldn't be fair thanks to the way assets grow and shrink in value over time.

That's why a Pennsylvania divorce appraisal can be much more complicated than a regular business or loan appraisal. Along with the current value, it's important to keep track of an asset's value on earlier dates like the time of purchase, the marriage date, the divorce filing date, and the date of separation. These numbers help the court understand who contributed to an asset's value and who planned their future around having that asset around.

Because few people want to sell everything they own during a divorce, the usual tactic is for both parties to buy each other out by giving away their share of some assets in order to keep others. But if you want to do this at all fairly, you need to know (and agree on) exactly how much that asset is worth and what percentage of each one belongs to which person.

Since people don't always agree on these numbers even with professional legal and financial advice, Pennsylvania courts allow appraisers to testify as neutral expert witnesses who list objective values so the court can decide what a family's assets are worth. Because of this, honest appraisals are important during a divorce: all dishonesty will get you is a longer and more expensive case.

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Deborah Zitomer Esquire, LLC
11 E. Airy Street
Norristown, PA 19401

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