For a Court to make a just and equitable decision about how a property pool is to be divided, it must first know what there is to be divided, which is often referred to as the “net asset pool”. To work out the net asset pool, parties must either agree on values of each asset and liability in the pool or, if an agreement cannot be reached, must prove to the Court that their asserted value is accurate.
One issue which is often a source of contention between the parties is the value of the matrimonial home - particularly if one party wants to keep it and the other party wants to sell it. If parties are unable to agree on the value of their home, it may be helpful for each party to obtain a few market appraisals from a real estate agent to obtain a median value. Most real estate agents offer these free of charge.
If the parties are still not able to reach an agreement as to the value of the house, a formal valuation may be required. The parties would jointly select and instruct an expert property valuer to determine the value of their house. This is usually done by one party proposing three valuers and the other party selecting the valuer they prefer the most. If parties are not able to agree on a valuer, they may need to consider independently instructing different valuers though there are risks with this option, particularly with issues such as bias. Furthermore, this option may not resolve the issue, particularly if the valuations differ. You end up at square one.
If a valuation is obtained by a single appointed expert and one of the parties still disagrees with the value, they can pose questions to the valuer, asking for further clarification regarding the reasons for the provided value. Depending on the answers provided to these questions, the disputing party can then apply for the Court to hear evidence from a separate valuer.
If you are having issues agreeing on the value of your property and would like assistance moving forward, please contact on of our Family Lawyers on (02) 9688 6023 for a free first conference.
This is not legal advice.