The procedure of separation or divorce is tough enough without struggling over the value of property and assets.
This is the reason why Paul Mazzeo, Vaughan family lawyer, promotes the use of joint appraisers as a good way for splitting spouses to reduce conflict.
“Couples can hire a joint evaluator or appraiser at the beginning of their separation and agree to the numbers that the evaluator provides, whether the like the numbers or not,” said Mazzeo, principal of Mazzeo Law. “This can help people actually complete the separation process instead of repeatedly switching or hiring separate appraisers.”
It can be expensive to invest in appraisers, but they can avert future conflicts that can lead to litigation and unnecessary costs. It can be productive for both parties to pitch in on the costs when it comes to more complex cases.
“Dividing assets and property can be a difficult task for most people to put up with, but once they accept that it’s just part of the divorce and separation process, they can focus on doing it in the easiest way possible,” Mazzeo said.
Any figures the evaluator determines are considered important in how separating couples decide on what’s considered “equal.” Basically, evaluators determine what payment one spouse will give to the other so that both parties leave the marriage as financial equals. “Equalization” is usually decided by the evaluator reviewing each spouse’s net worth on the date of their separation. Net worth is determined when the evaluator subtracts the value of liabilities from the value of all the assets present on the separation date. For example, if one spouse has a one-million-dollar net worth, and the other has half of a million, then the first spouse will give the second a quarter million, which would make it so that both spouses leave the marriage with half a million dollars.
“The concept is simple in theory, but in practice, many things can occur that will make it complicated,” Mazzeo said.
The day the couple separated can be disputed for example, or if the marriage didn’t last very long in the first place, one spouse could argue “unequal property division,” which can be legitimate under particular legal circumstances.
Mazzeo has found that deciding the value of property and assets can be the most problematic process of divorce or separation.
“Determining someone’s net worth isn’t as easy as glancing at their bank accounts,” Mazzeo said.
In the example he gave, he stated that one spouse could claim that any business they own isn’t worth anything, while the other can say that the business is actually worth hundreds of thousands. Evaluators work to settle these kinds of disputes.
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