Going through a divorce presents an overwhelming array of emotional, logistical, and financial challenges. For many couples, one of the most complex aspects of dissolving a marriage is the valuation of marital assets. A clear understanding of how the process works can help protect what is yours while reducing the potential for a contentious battle. Working with an experienced Maryland divorce attorney can ensure you understand all your rights regarding marital assets during a divorce.
Defining Marital Property
Under Maryland law, all property each spouse acquires during the marriage is typically deemed marital property. Such property may include:
- Real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Personal property
Valuations of Marital Property
When dividing marital property during a divorce, spouses may choose to negotiate directly to decide who will receive which assets, either in whole or in part. In a contested divorce, if the spouses disagree about the equitable distribution of property, valuation can be determined by stipulation. Alternatively, the parties can employ experts to present the values of property, if the spouses cannot agree on the value.
Valuation will vary according to the type of asset.
Valuing Real Estate
Working with a qualified real estate appraiser allows you to determine the fair market value of any real property, such as the marital home. The appraisal looks at similar recently sold homes in your area as a comparison. It also accounts for size, age, condition, and customized features. Be sure the Court is aware of any existing mortgages in addition to the appraised value.
Respected resources, such as Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds, provide a range of values for used vehicles based on the make, model, year, mileage, and overall condition. Consider trade-in value, private sale value, and retail value when aiming for an equitable split. Also, factor in any custom equipment, updates, or repairs.
Compile recent account statements for investment accounts showing the total value, types of assets held, and performance over time. Additionally, meeting with a financial advisor can help project future returns to determine an asset’s present value.
Valuing Retirement Accounts
Retirement accounts also require current statements indicating the vested balance. For certain types of retirement accounts, projecting future growth up until retirement age will assist in reaching today’s value. This often involves professional actuaries who understand factors like future contributions, withdrawals, earnings growth, inflation, and fees.
Valuing Business Interests
Business valuators employ financial modeling, market analysis, growth projections, and other complex calculations to determine a company’s worth. For small businesses, simpler methods may suffice. However, be sure to account for all assets, inventory, debts/liabilities, profit/loss, market forces, and goodwill.
Accounting for Personal Property
While most household furnishings hold little resale value, some personal property like jewelry, art, collectibles, and antiques may be valuable. Itemizing these assets and researching sales of similar items can establish a reasonable market price.
Contact a Maryland Divorce Attorney Today
Determining values for marital assets can be confusing and overwhelming, especially if the process becomes contentious. Working with an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer can give you the advocate you need to protect your rights. The seasoned team at McKeon Law Firm is ready to fight for what you deserve so you can enjoy security and stability in the next chapter of your life. Contact us today for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help you.