Skip to main content

Valuing your assets in divorce

By July 22, 2020June 30th, 2021Divorce

Knowing your assets and your assets’ value in a divorce is easy… and difficult. Keep reading.

You need to know what you own in your divorce. Just as important, though, you need to know what each asset’s value is in your divorce. The problem (for some) is that it’s difficult to know what you truly own in our debt-ridden world.

Real Property. What is real property? Real property is a legal term for real estate. If you have a mortgage on your home, you still own the home… you just also have a loan on it. If you rent/lease, you do not own real estate. In addition to a personal residence, many of my clients also own rentals and/or business real property.

Personal Property. Personal property is all the tangible and intangible stuff that you own that is not real property. If you own a vehicle, but you owe money to a bank, you own a vehicle. For some reason, many clients think the bank owns the vehicle, but this assumption is wrong. You own the vehicle. Other personal property items are: bank accounts, retirement accounts, furniture, art, jewelry, tools, guns, etc.

Real and Personal Property Values. So, how much is your real and personal property worth? It’s basic 2nd grade math. We’ve got this!

What is the value that a third disinterested party (i.e. not your good friend or family who wants to give you a good deal) would pay for your property? I am calling this the value.

What is the amount you owe on the property? (i.e. a mortgage or a loan). I am calling this the loan.

Value – loan = equity value. Your property’s equity value is the value we take into account in the divorce.

Take for example the new car your almost ex-spouse bought six months ago. It’s a beautiful car and, let’s be honest, its much better than your car. The same formula works… regardless of how pretty the personal property may be.

Value – loan = equity value. So, if the Tesla is worth $39,000.00, but the loan is $42,000.00, then the Tesla isn’t worth anything. Zero. Nadda.

Julie, are you kidding me? That car is amazing and my 2010 Honda with wonky brakes is worth $3,000. Mine is worth more? How can that be? It’s the loan. We look at the equity value in all property… regardless of how shiny… because s/he can’t sell the Tesla and make any money, you can.

Some assets are harder to value, such as a pension or a business. Divorce attorneys don’t value your assets. Either the parties agree upon the value or we hire-out an expert to value the pension or the business. A pension valuation tends to cost about $450 and a business valuation is dependent upon the size of the business, but ball-park somewhere between $4,000 – $8,000.

A few caveats…

Non-Marital Property. Non-marital property is property that is not a part of the marriage. For instance, if you owned a home in your name prior to the marriage, you sold that property and kept the proceeds in an account in your sole name, then that money is non-marital because you never commingled the pre-marital asset. If you received inheritance and you kept the inheritance in an account in your sole name, then the inheritance is non-marital, too. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules, but only a judge or a couple who is in agreement can create those exceptions. If you are in disagreement, then the rules stand.

Here are my suggestions. Do your homework and determine what marital you own. That way, you aren’t surprised in mediation. You can negotiate a much better deal for yourself and your almost ex-spouse when you are armed with knowledge. Get a comparative market analysis on your real property. Learn how much your vehicles are worth. Look-up your retirement account’s values. Educate yourself about your stuff. Download our Divorce Mediation Checklist and get started.

If you still have questions and want to schedule a consultation, please click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation.

If you want to read more about divorce mediation in Oregon, you can download my book, Divorce Mediation in Oregon for free by clicking here.

I was very impressed with Mediation Northwest. Julie Gentili Armbrust was clear, direct, efficient. Even in tense moments, she kept the negotiations respectful, as she was fair and even-handed, and ensured that we complied with the ground rules. She kept a good attitude and modeled how to maintain a clear head under awkward circumstances. They kept us well-informed of the process and met all expectations.