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What should you consider before hiring a valuation expert?

There are certain assets you know you want the judge to award you in your California divorce, but you will probably have to make some trade-offs with your spouse to make sure he or she agrees. Trading based on emotional value could leave you with less than an equal share, though. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, providing the court with a professional opinion may ensure that you receive the items you want without losing others you should have in the bargain.

Hiring a credible appraiser is going to be an expense, so you want to make sure that the items are worth the cost. Identify the assets you want to have appraised and do some research on their potential financial value before making the decision. Often, people choose to have coin, stamp and baseball card collections, antiques, artwork and jewelry appraised. As you compile your list, make sure to note any unique features of the items that may affect value, including

  • Title or subject matter
  • The name of the artist, manufacturer or maker
  • Measurements
  • Dates

If your divorce is contentious, you may end up in trial court rather than presenting an agreement to the judge after reaching an amicable settlement. In this case, there is a good chance that your spouse may attempt to claim some of the same items, whether for personal reasons, to receive a greater share of the property, or even just to create more stress for you. You may want to hire someone who will take the stand as an expert witness to verify value and dispute the valuation of the professional your spouse has chosen. 

This general information may give you an idea of relevant factors in hiring a professional appraiser, but it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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