When beginning the divorce process, one of the first and most commonly asked questions is how to unwind the property and assets of the marriage and divide them between the two parties. Especially with marriages of longer duration, everything is “ours”, and years of accumulating personal property and assets can be overwhelming when determining division.
Indiana state law provides that all marital property goes into one pot and the presumptive division to each party of assets and liabilities is 50%/50%1. But, how do you divide and value years worth of marital property equally?
First, personal property can often be divided quicker than other items. For example, each party keeps their clothing and if there are 2 couches and television, each party gets one of each. If there is an older couch and an older television, maybe one party gets the new television and the old couch and the other gets the old television and the new couch. These day to day items can be generally equally divided without much deviation as to value.
But what about a house, rental property, or vehicle? Maybe one party owns a luxury vehicle with significant outstanding debt and the other party has an older vehicle that has already been paid off by the parties. Essentially, a balance sheet is made to try to best equal out assets and debts. But, with these bigger ticket items, an appraisal by a professional may be necessary to determine value.
If there is a house involved in the marital property, often an appraisal is necessary to determine current value. This is especially true when there is a recent shift in the housing market, causing values to go up or down. An appraiser will generally inspect the property and similar houses in the area to determine value. The parties can then review the amount, if any remaining on the mortgage to determine the home’s equity for division purposes.
Cars that are classical or unique may also be appraised prior to dividing property in a divorce. If a classical car has been restored or otherwise, its value may be greater, or it may be an antique. In these situations, an appraiser may help determine the value for property division to ensure that the 50%/50% split is accurate.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in understanding some basic issues of property division and appraisals. It is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.
- See generally, Indiana Code 31-15-7-5.