California is a community property state, which means that in a divorce, all assets acquired during the course of the marriage are considered community property. Any property acquired prior to the marriage, by gift or inheritance, or after the parties separate is considered separate property. The law in California requires that all community property be divided equally, so long as there is no written agreement in place that dictates the division of property. The appraisal process ensures that all community property is valued properly so that it can be equally split between spouses in a divorce.
What Types of Property can be Appraised?
Any piece of real or personal property can be appraised during the divorce process. The biggest piece of property that an appraiser can value is typically real estate, and this includes all homes and land that is purchased during the course of the marriage. Other property that can be appraised for a divorce includes, but is not limited to, cars, jewelry, furniture, art, collectibles, and anything else of significant value that may be split during a divorce.
How Does the Appraisal Process Work?
In situations in which an appraiser is called for real estate, the appraisal process begins with an appraiser coming to the property for an inspection. The spouses are questioned about the property, whether there are any particular issues with the property, and then the appraiser does a physical inspection of the property. This includes taking measurements, looking at crawl spaces, checking HVAC, plumbing, and electric, inspecting any additional amenities of the property, and checking out the outdoor aspects of the property. This also includes any additional features that the spouses have added since purchasing the property, such as a swimming pool, physical addition, or wine cellar.
After the physical visit, an appraiser will then research the legal description, title, and whether any liens exist on the property. The property is also compared using a template to at least three comparable pieces of real estate in the area that have sold within the last six months. The appraiser will try to find properties that have similar square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, general condition, and making adjustments to the value based on these comparisons. The final step in the appraisal process is an arms-length analysis of the property where a final valuation for the property is reached.
The value of the property is the fair market value as of the date of the divorce. Fair market value assumes that neither the buyer or seller is under pressure to enter the transaction and that this would be the agreed upon price for the property. The appraisal process is similar for pieces of personal property, as well, with a physical inspection and comparisons to similar items of personal property in order to find the true value of the item.
Talk to a Divorce Attorney Today
To schedule a consultation regarding any questions about family law in California, contact one of the family law attorneys at Kearney | Baker today at 626-768-2945.