Division of Assets and Debts
In a family law proceeding, in most all cases the court must divide the community assets and debts equally between the parties. “Community” means all assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage.
Various factors do affect what is to be considered community as opposed to what is to be considered the separate property of either spouse, including but not limited to, the existence of a prenuptial agreement and the extent to which either party has contributed their separate property toward the acquisition of a community asset.
There are also a few other rules that permit either party to be reimbursed for using their separate property to pay community debts after the parties have separated under certain circumstances.
Generally speaking, the division of community assets and debts is a mathematical function, and it is not difficult or time consuming, except in cases where the parties cannot agree upon the value of assets. It is our experience at Castle & Monarch that the parties can generally agree upon the value of most of the household furniture and furnishings. It is usually the value of real estate, businesses, and unique personal property such as artwork and memorabilia where the parties disagree and either negotiate an agreed upon value or litigate the value.
In cases where real property is at issue, a certified real estate appraiser, either commercial or residential, which appraiser is known to the court, will be utilized as a forensic expert to provide an opinion as to the fair market value of the property at issue.
In cases where the value of a business is at issue, Castle & Monarch will utilize a forensic expert who has the credentials of both a certified public accountant as well as a certified business appraiser.
In cases where unique personal property such as artwork or memorabilia are at issue, there are experts in both fields who will render their opinions as to the fair market value of said items.
In all cases, Castle & Monarch will attempt to settle all property issues without unnecessary litigation, and we will carefully explain to our clients all areas in which any forensic experts disagree with regard to the value of assets.
Often compromise can be made on various factors to be considered in valuing businesses and/or real estate, even if the ultimate value cannot be agreed upon. This reduces the amount of attorneys’ fees and trial time necessary to litigate these issues.