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Divorcing spouses need to know fair market value of home

At the end of a marriage, couples often struggle with the question of how to divide their property. Tennessee courts seek what is called equitable division, a splitting up of assets acquired during the marriage in a way that is fair to both parties.

The family home is often the most valuable asset a couple owns. If the spouses sell the home at the end of the marriage, the proceeds go into the pool of assets to be divided. But if one of the spouses plans to keep the home after the divorce, it is important for both spouses to have an accurate picture of the home's fair market value. If they don't, one spouse may be losing out on the equity built up in the home and may not have a complete picture of all the assets shared in the marriage.

One way to get an accurate valuation is through a licensed appraiser. The appraiser can act as an impartial and professional third party when soon-to-be ex-spouses don't see eye to eye on the value of the home. Another way is to have a Realtor do a comparative market analysis. This technique compares the home to others like it in the area that have recently sold and uses that information to come up with a rough estimate of the fair market value of the home.

Of course, the spouses may already agree with each other about the value of the home, or may agree on some other method to determine the home's value. In this case, they may be able to get away without hiring an appraiser or Realtor. But this may not be a good idea -- what seems fair at the time of the divorce may strike one ex-spouse as grossly unfair months or years later. It's a good idea to have a disinterested third-party professional make the call on the value of the most important asset a couple owns before the spouses go their separate ways.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Three Ways To Value Your Home In A Divorce," Joseph E. Cordell, March 1, 2013

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